Sunday, October 2, 2011
This is the first I remember, probably from 1955 or 1956.
My mother takes my brother and me to a restaurant/cocktail lounge. She is dressed in a tweed suit (jacket and skirt) of a sort of blue-purple with yellow and black highlights., with a matching hat—more a beret, really. This is apparently during one of my mother’s blonde phases. The suit existed, BTW.
As children, we are not permitted in the bar/lounge. We are required to wait outside. Before we are removed from the premises I glance inside and see my mother at the bar sipping a drink from a straw in her distinctive tweed suit.
Richard and I (in the dream I seem much closer in age and ability to Richard) wait outside the tavern seated on the ground against a wooden packing crate painted in yellow. The crate in turn abuts the building. It is mid-day. We fall asleep.
We wake up. It is now late in the afternoon, and the sun is very low. We are still seated against the packing crate, but whereas this had formerly been up against the wall of the tavern, it is now ten feet away. We somehow never registered that movement.
I peer into the restaurant. Where formerly it had been bustling with patrons, the space is empty save for cobwebs. No one has been in this room for many years. There is no sign of our mother. Behind the bar—o, sweet Jesus!—an animate skeleton is mixing drinks, and at this point I wake up wailing and my parents depart the party-in-progress to quiet me down.
(Just at the moment, in the “Delta Club” at SFO)
Richard Careaga and I go back fifty-nine years. I was not paying complete attention for about the first thirty-six or forty months of this period, but from that time forward, and until he quit what remained of the ancestral hearth in September 1965, I studied him closely and attempted energetically if erratically to model my life on his. I was already on a skewed trajectory destined to bury the point in wilderness far removed from my intended target, but everything I am today is informed by the slavish adoration and emulation with which I regarded him from the earliest months during which my initial impressions coalesced into my first memories.
He would have been eight and change and I three and change. I was aware of my parents, but these then appeared vast, gigantic conditions of nature rather than actors within it. Richard loomed large enough to my toddler vantage, but still of sufficiently human scale to command my devotion rather than my uncomprehending love and awe. As I gradually developed a more nuanced comprehension of my family, Richard was my reliable guide and intermediary, explaining, intervening, protecting. He did all this even as he extended his own social circle to his peers. I vividly remember him cycling away from me in 1957 to join his friends. I was more than prepared to be party to that conversation; they, likely not so much. “Rich!” I screeched, “R-i-i-i-ch!” —and the bicycle with its rider disappeared at the western end of Index Street faster than my stubby little legs could carry me.
He’s always been the overachiever of the family (although he’d feel uncomfortable to hear himself so described) and his younger sibs stand in awe of him: spare us, Richard, the “impostor syndrome” bullshit. Noted and dismissed. He stayed here at the Crumbling Manse™ the past two evenings and even though his flight back to Florida does not leave until curfew this evening elected to head off to SFO in mid-afternoon. This seemed loopy to Lina, but I understood: it is better to be five hours early for a flight than one minute late. This is the Careaga Way, and I salute my bro (ensconced, I trust, in the fabulous premium appurtenances of the “Delta Club” from this moment until the boarding call) on his way back east.