June 2, 2017:

The first day and night: friends and martyrs.

A wanker whose name has evaporated: "Nothing will change until someone is willing to sacrifice himself." A wanker whose comical Hollywood parody of a Dutch name still makes me giggle: "I might."

To escape the truly horrific Commons there was a diner; a fast-food taco shop; a Thrifty's with ice cream; an excellent Mexican restaurant. My first year was all about the fast-food. Three ground beef tacos, limp fries, soda: about $4. I'd never had Mexican: the tacos were revelation. Dripping orange grease, crunchy, cool leafy lettuce, a clump of shredded cheese: each part of the whole had its own combination of flavors. Delicious. As a Freshman I walked a mile-ish there and a mile-ish back pretty much every day.

Later it was the excellent Mexican. A school colleague with a car; a very beautiful girlfriend without. Decades later she tells me we had "our table". I expect that's true. Walk through tract homes to dinner, stop for ice cream and beer on the way home. Kisses, love: lovely.

We were elitists. I was ambivalent about that. I believed and still believe in √©galit√©: but that doesn't mean dumbing down the accomplished. The unserious students at the parent University appalled and alienated me, although I was more standoffish than confrontational. Some including my then closest friend were horrible to them. She insulted and belittled them at every turn — something of the convert's exaggerated rejection of her own past as University transfer. Her behavior embarrassed me to the point where I stopped attending classes with her.

The wanker with missing identity wankered off. The wanker with comical parody Dutch name made false offers but in the end was all about the taking.

I learned, roughly in order: Campbell; Kirk; Levi-Strauss; Freud; Marx; Joyce; Braudel; the Greeks; and finally Althusser, although through network not institution. There was "Apocalypse Now"; "Baron von Munchausen"; the opera; Neil Young; quaaludes; the Sex Pistols and the Ramones and the entire wave. There was sex, with, I think, thirteen women, although sadly not all at once. There was guitar and radio, and Greece, and friends I still love. And various wankers I'm happy to be shot of.

Doing it over I would... not invest energy into the wankers.

June 1, 2017:

I looked at it with Street View. Groves, buildings I don't remember, then the parking lot where the rich Iranians parked their Trans Ams, where my mother parked her old yellow Chevy Nova filled with my world of the time: some clothes, some books: that's really about it.

I lived, I think, in three different rooms on two floors. Had sex in several others and on the roof. Had friends everywhere. Wrote thousands of pages of journals I've subsequently burned.

Why did life feel so vibrant in that moment?

I think, because it was the first freedom of leaving home, in comradeship with very smart people of similar makeup, all of us rejects or rebels from conventional factory schools. It was the epiphany of reading, of discovering my intellect, of discovering whole continents of knowledge I'd never suspected. It was the relaxed understanding that I was never particularly accountable for anything, so long as my tuition was paid. It was sex and love and being not-quite-yet grownup, not in the dead-end way forced by careers and families and roofs overhead.

I never dream of being there. Not ever. I dream of the childhood apartment I left to go there. Does that mean that I wish for childhood? — or that I feel I completed the university phase of my life, but not the phases before or after? Perhaps, more aptly, that I never lived school as my home. It was always only ever a way station. There was no possible confusion over that.

I wouldn't go there again. Except obviously I would. I just did, via Street View. That's enough for now.

May 31, 2017:

There was the time a press of belligerent frat boys threatened to "take you out to the orange groves and rape your ass." I said, "Oh. Now I understand what you mean by 'Greek society.'" It went over poorly.

They wanted my girlfriend. She was beautiful as fresh peaches, dripping with unexplored sexuality. Her sparkling charisma got her into trouble and nearly got my ass raped in orange groves. We didn't last. Breaking off with her was pretty much the hardest thing I've ever deliberately experienced.

There was the campaign to subvert the Commons. Centering around hilarious faux question-and-answer postings on 3x5 cards on the bulletin board. We asked and answered them in biting, mordant humor. An art project of some collective merit.

There was the competition of practical jokes. My dorm neighbor set the famous landmark clock running backward; I hid all the furniture on the second floor, including the wall outlets. There was a good deal of alcohol.

There was the useless drunken philosophy professor comically skeeving undergraduate coeds, and occasionally being accepted. The scowling literature professor whose beard looked like Bride of Frankenstein. The brilliant, kindhearted Sociology professor who was helpful and supportive and probably the one I should have chosen to work with, although he knew nothing of the things that interested me. The American History professor who knew far less than I did about history in either its American or European variants. The Chemistry guy whose fame was a biannual explosives class, perhaps in memory of the Weathermen, perhaps not. The Mathematics guy with no students 'cos who gives a shit.

Mostly there was what could have been. It was an embryo of that Red University the Parisian class of '68 talked so much about. Almost democratic, almost inclusive, almost egalitarian while nevertheless committed to excellence. It was flotsam on the '60s wave, shipwrecked in the '70s. It was NOT the comical hippy good-vibey transpersonal caricature which the two professors leading the inventory above published as its "history". It was serious. It could have been serious if the flippant faculty trivializers had allowed it to be.

Ironically it died from its own excellence. To remain accredited the parent University needed to absorb its test scores. Which it did.

Many of the students moved north. From that hejira we got one of America's quirkiest college radio bands of the late '80s, a band which perfectly reflected its distant origin. And we got my lifelong love of Greek food, which is another story for another time.

What would it feel like to walk there now?