Vaughn is dead now, alas, as dead as Marley, and somehow, in the back of my mind, it feels like I will only finally completely lose Vaughn when I finish reading that book. So I delay doing so. And I wonder if I will understand what Vaughn wanted me to realize from reading it. If I don’t, of course, he is no longer available to ask. What a lousy friend I was to him by ignoring his suggestion that I read the book while he was still alive, and by retaining it and never returning it. Too late now.
Shared experience among friends is one of life’s real treasures. I once had a wonderful conversation about this fact with Elaine, who was the director of student activities at Roosevelt University back in the 60s (and for some time after that). She is a very perceptive person. She said that one of the saddest things in life occurs when the last other person with whom you share an important memory or experience dies, and you alone remember it, perhaps imperfectly. Lost, as Rutger Houser’s character says in Blade Runner, “like tears in rain.”
It was an interesting time to be there, and there were a good number of fascinating teachers. Sue in the Education Department, who had been one of the Japanese-Americans interned in the government’s camps during World War II (and who I just learned recently also died). Yolanda in the English Department whose singing of the song The Great Capitulation from Brecht's Mother Courage in her drama class had to be one of the greatest performances of all time, a momentary and fleeting moment of lost time. And my Iranian sociology professor, Mr. Nezami, whose whereabouts and survival I wonder about at times. He went back to his country, and he and I ultimately lost touch.
The party at my house that night was notable for two other things. One was that for some reason someone firebombed a car that was parked right in front of the apartment building. When it occurred, a lot of the people from my party went downstairs into the street, and watched the auto burn. I myself went down there. When I did so, for some reason, one of my seven cats leaped up onto my left shoulder and stayed there as I walked around, and only leapt off again when I walked back up the stairs and back into the apartment.