Mar 25, 2023

When I’d felt everything was falling apart, I’d moved in with Celeste, a friend of my mother’s who was renovating an old Victorian house with extra bedrooms she wanted to rent out. (As psychiatric social workers, she and my mom were working together at Herrick hospital at the time.) Nevertheless, there was a night I chose to spend at Linda’s. In my journal I wrote:

I remember thrashing around in Linda’s bed that night and her putting out her hand to quiet me—then my efforts to stay still and in one spot, feeling claustrophobic in my dreams, like I was going to burst out all over.

I remember sitting at her kitchen table earlier in the evening and starting to cry and not seeing anything after that, except her hand reaching out across the table and gently resting on my arm.

I remember telling her about my argument with Rick about money and his maxim that it was OK to borrow from family but not friends. “He doesn’t realize that for some of us, our friends are our family,” she said.

“Maybe the men we might have been interested in died in Vietnam,” she mused later. And gave me a little book to read with bad poetry and good advice about how to get over a lost love. It made me laugh a little and cry a little until I started to doze off with it in my hand. She got up to turn off the TV and the lights—and then got up five minutes later to get a some warm socks to cover my cold feet.

Another night I dreamed I was to go alone by kayak to an island I had never seen. It was a gray, watery, utterly hopeless dream that had a bleakness difficult to describe. I remember a long wait in a queue of people in front of a narrow canal. When my turn came, I squatted down in the hole of a welded-metal kayak and fitted a steel chest plate over myself and put on a boxy helmet with glass eyepieces to keep out the spray. Then I remember a journey through labyrinthian blank tunnels that went on and on—and only ended with my waking.



The union intervened on my behalf, as I’ve said, and saved my job at Tiburon College.

A year or so later, I ran into Lisa in the card shop where she now clerked.

“So have you heard from Rick?” I asked.

“As a matter of fact, I talked to him a couple of weeks ago.”

“And how’s he doing?”

“Getting rich, I guess,” Lisa shrugged. “He bragged that he’d bought a new Mercedes—and admitted he was putting a lot of money up his nose.”

Sometime later—months…years?—I remembered the dream I’d had about Rick, his head covered up to his eyeballs in dough, and finally made the connection between the two meanings of dough.