Finding the Nest (Part 4)

Early Wednesday morning, Oct. 24, 1984, I had a dream.

I know because I put it down in the journal:

Sue [my Crow’s Nest crush] lived with a nameless guy who, at one point (the beginning of the dream) had left her. He had hurt her in some way (broken her hand?) and was now before me at another guy’s house talking about leaving her. Instantly I was anxious to steal her away from him, and I slipped out of the house, fairly certain as to where I would find her (God knows what I’d say to her upon finding her, marry me?)…In the dream I waited for a friend’s mother to get home from grocery shopping so I could borrow their station wagon (that was the car—with a dent in the right rear side). I was boiling over with impatience to see her… Finally, the guy she had been abandoned by returned and proposed marriage to her. The last thing I saw was both their names written in the sky, amid plaudits from others. When I awoke and realized that this was not true, my urgency to know the inner workings of her life became keener. Lest all my life slip through my hands like this dream, I must know what the truth is.”

That burning early-morning sense of urgency aside, it seemed there was little I could do. Since the blissful Friday convo at The Crow’s Nest on Oct. 19, I wouldn’t see Sue again for 15 days—an eternity.

NestPart4_HalloweenIt was Hallowe’en in Iowa City. The mornings were frosty. And classes droned on.

I was actually feeling homesick, daydreaming about driving my car through backcountry roads, being close to my books and the old Family Project farmhouse again.

But every chance I got to visit The Crow’s Nest, still no Sue.

Now that I knew she was a Psych major, I haunted the department library and Seashore Hall hoping I’d run into her. I calculated that any relationship that could form between us had to happen outside of The Nest. There were just too many distractions there.


Wednesday, Oct. 31, the journal reports Rick and I ran up to the grocery store: “It was a great Hallowe’en night, misty and a bit foggy, warm, and there was lightning flashing through the clouds. Jack o’lanterns in many windows of the Victorian-style homes of Iowa City.”

Returning to Mayflower, we ran into Carolyn and Dave on their way to “a Haunted House setup in North Liberty.” They invited us along. The journal tells the story:

“We got a little off-track on the way by following a few other cars—at one point everyone tried turning around and getting directions and a roadblock was thus formed. We were rolling with laughter. At last we realized our mistake and got to the place, a bit like a State Park, stuck out in the middle of nowhere. We paid the $2.00 to get in, waited until a group of about 30 of us formed, then we were led down to a campfire where a guy attempted to tell us a ghost story as it started to rain (a poor bit of horror was underway—a guy feigning to be ill rolled on the ground and ‘transformed’ into a gorilla) they drove us through the mud down to a hayrack, onto which we piled as the rain bashed down on us. We couldn’t see a thing as it rained, and the timid attempts of frightening us with jack o’lanterns and hanging shrouds failed to lift our soaked spirits. They cut the ride short and sped us back up to the entrance, refunded our money, and everyone scattered in the rain. The four of us got into the car howling with laughter, soaked through. The drive back was slow, through the deep puddles and thrashing rain. We joked and told ghost stories and gazed out at the lightning-lit fields.”

It’s times like this when I treasure the journal—when it transports me back to those forgotten moments with people I’ll likely never see again, and remember the laughter we shared.


It was Saturday, Nov. 3, when I finally saw Sue again.

Bud and I caught a late screening of Quadrophenia at the Bijou downtown, then went to grab a nightcap at Stonewalls or Joe’s Place—finally settling on The Crow’s Nest.

“Voila!” the journal reports, “Who appears behind the bar, as sweet-looking as ever—Sue. She seemed busy and Bud & I grabbed a table; at the time there was no room at the bar. We stayed only until our beers were down, probably about a half hour. Sue was working the back bar; she seemed beaten down, tired.”

I was so obsessed about her I had another dream the following Monday morning: “…it’s vague now and I spent much of the morning trying to recall one detail—but couldn’t. It was a feeling—the feeling of being a couple, and spending time together, alone.”

But November proved tougher than late October.

I didn’t see her again until the week after Election Day (as Ronald Reagan was re-elected for a second term), when Steve and Chris, from Rhetoric, joined me after class at The Crow’s Nest:

“We were up at the Nest from 9:15 to 10:30 or so… Sue was working back bar from what I could tell and the first time she glided round the corner I’d thought my heart had stopped. She really looked sharp, stylish slacks (?—they weren’t jeans), a shirt with the back end of the button-down collar crimped in. Lovely hair, with a cave of it over her forehead. She borrowed the sweater of the girl working front bar; it was, she said, cold in back. She didn’t notice me, I think, and that crushes me, to be invisible to one you admire and fancy. It’s hopeless, so I turn back to the table where Steve and Chris are talking about Dreams.”


I’m not entirely sure where to go with the rest of this.

I mean, I vacillated.

The Thanksgiving holidays were looming, which meant going home to Minnesota for a couple days.

Just before catching a ride north with Ann, another Minnesota transplant at UI, I went alone to The Crow’s Nest and saw a band—something I don’t ever remember doing by myself: “I went back for a buck to see the band Tetraphonic, had a few Exports and saw no sign of Sue. I sat there taking in the Nest. What a wonderful place it is! Everyone needs to experience that.”CrowsNest2

A rock band playing to a handful of people.

A glinty, spinning mirror ball.

And a quiet 1,000-square-foot oak dance floor.

I loved The Crow’s Nest.

And in an odd sort of way, I felt loved by it.


On Tuesday, Nov. 27, 1984, I was back in Iowa City after Thanksgiving. It was my 25th birthday. The town was on the verge of snow, and I was feeling sad. “What did I say to Hollingsworth once?” I wrote in the journal. “Your true love is about as close as you can come to a Real Ghost. I told myself that again tonight. What does it feel to be 25? …24, and dead.”

ThompsonThe very next day Hunter S. Thompson spoke at the University.

The journal reports:

“People smoking dope. Punkheads who walked out on him. He took two drags off a backstage-offered joint and drank brandy (?) on ice. He claimed everything was O.K.—different than the ’70s, but you could tell he seethed. He’s a drunk; a sort of street philosopher, the clever guy whose name you forget who sat with you at the bar and said more than an average Joe’s share of bright remarks. He prophesied that he’d be vilified, in death, as he said ‘his friend’ John Belushi would be.”

Afterward I veered uptown to The Nest, where I sat until 11:30 or so. “No Sue,” I wrote later, “but listened to the brunette who works bar there talk to a guy … who used to ‘go’ with Sue. He was surprised and disappointed with her. I was amazed, eavesdropping.”

It was the end of November, and things had come strangely full circle from the dream nearly a month before.

But what did it all mean?

~ by completelyinthedark on July 17, 2015.

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