September 8, 2020:

I met three girls at Windansea. That's already the start of a poem by François Villon. We chatted at the taco truck and by morning they'd become my guides, guardians, and lifelong friends.

They were older women, university students at UCSD. Intellectual, militant, fearless. They introduced me to Feminist theory, taught me to find the clitoris, and dropped me headlong into the ferment of the student movement in its death-rattle-of-the-1960s period of, say, 1972 to 1976, ish.

I should explain the unique circumstances of that campus in that era. The student movements there had institutionalized many of their '60s gains in the form of a network of student-owned and managed co-ops and collectives forming a comprehensive alternative to the official infrastructure offered by the Regents. Where the University had its student dining facilities the students had the Che Café, all-vegeterian with a stage for bands and a floor for dancing, where I earned my first gainful pennies while learning to cook brown rice and red beans for four hundred. The University had a bland student newspaper; the students had The New Indicator, a stridently ultra-left attempt at rabble-rousing where I learned computer typesetting, and the deft art of toning down ultra-left rhetoric to imply something like editorial cohesion. The University of course had its bookstore, but the students had Groundwork Books, a lefty enclave of working-class history, anarchist theory, and study groups, where I was first exposed to "The Tyranny of Structurelessness", Proudhon, Kropotkin, and the gang. There was a recycling co-op, a political film collective, a bicycle co-op, a women's health co-op, and an entire panoply of sectarian left groups often dominated by Marcuse's grad students, who to me seemed omnipresent.

I loved it there so, so much. The vibrant sense of ferment, the rebelliousness, the questing and the questioning. I could be anonymous and absorb. Nothing was expected of me, I was too young. The students were protecting me, yet at the same time I was accepted as a fellow seeker after... something. Change. It's the first time since maybe marbles or antlions or electrical circuits I felt excited by something to do with a school. I knew I wanted to reboot my education. I thought maybe I'd want to do it here.

I was not yet ready. The intellectual ferment impacted me but at this moment did not yet engage me as fully as it shortly would. It was sensory overload. With depression, isolation, intellectual self-denial, ADHD, drugs: I was not able to immediately process. It was necessary to first learn the geography, so to speak. Not just the buildings, but the people and their groupings. So that my first period of immersion there was not the intellectual revolution one might have predicted. It did prepare the ground, so that when the right seeds fell they took root immediately, lending juice to the "blinding flash" character of my enlightenment moments. I was, though, very ready to take greater responsibility for the days of my life. From drifting through San Diego on my bike I slowly transitioned to life in the dorms as a high school not-exactly-runaway. I spent more and more time on dorm couches or in the beds of my girlfriends, working and eating at the Ché, not going home. Definitely not going to high school.