At dinner at the Grand Canyon, Dad asked me why I was staring at him. “You’re grayer,” I said, not telling him that he reminded me a little of Dustin Hoffman in Death of a Salesman. “I got old,” Dad said. “At my next birthday – I can hardly believe it – I’ll be 69 years old.” Dad remarked that the block we were on had been his territory when he worked for that private investigating firm while he was still in high school.
I was awakened at about 6 AM by a loud rumble, and for a second or two, the room seemed to shake. The lighting fixture was swinging back and forth. “An earthquake,” I thought – and then said to myself, “Don’t be silly. It must be an explosion or something.” I forgot about it until our break at Columbia, when Dipti said, “Did you feel that earthquake this morning?”
At 14th Street, a guy grabbed at a woman’s neck; he quickly ran away as the doors closed. What he’d done was snatch three gold chains. The woman, a young West Indian, said she’d just bought the chains and still had the receipt for them. “I never usually sit next to the door,” she told me. As we made our way into Brooklyn, she kept saying “I just can’t believe it.”
Alice says she may stop reading the Times because the prices on condos and co-ops depress her too much. Sometimes I think I’ve seen the best minds of my generation destroyed by real estate.
I’d like to take the HTLV-III antibody test just to know, even if the gay health experts advise people not to take it. If I tested positive for AIDS exposure, I’m not sure I’d panic or get depressed, but I probably wouldn’t get so upset at the problems of day-to-day life. (I worry more about Sean than I do myself.)
After class, a Haitian girl asked me to look at her poetry, and then a black girl came in and started crying and explained that her uncle, whom she lives with, had locked her in the house for days because he flew into a rage when she asked him for money for books. “It’ll be all right,” I said, as I gingerly touched her shoulder.
Maybe I’m too insensitive and hard-edged, but I learned early on here in Brooklyn that if I was ever going to make it, I couldn’t be any “softer” than I could help being. Of course, Justin’s from Connecticut, which is why he only mildly complains about a driver cutting in front of him on West Street while I yell out, “You bastid! Doncha know how to drive?!”
I’m scared about moving to Park Slope – imagine me living in Brooklyn again after all these years – but I’m also excited. Let’s put it this way: it has possibilities. Even a wary Teresa allowed as how it couldn’t do me much harm. She realizes, as her mother said, that our inertia feeds off each other, and to get moving, we have to separate.
Tonight Alice said she couldn’t understand how I could be happy if I didn’t have a clear goal. “I’m sure you’d rather be settled and on your way up to some goal,” she said, and I responded by saying, “No, that’s exactly what I don’t want. I like living in different places and doing different things.”
When a famous movie and TV star and friend of the President and his wife gets AIDS, it’s top-of-the-broadcast news. I hope it will help the ordinary people who are dying of the disease. It’s terrifying how many people I know, or know about, who have contracted AIDS or have already died.