December 22, 2017:

That one wanted to wrestle.

She was beautiful. Tall, tawny, very fit in a '70s natural pre-gym-era way. Her hair was soft, her breasts small, her thighs smooth and strong as a vice. We wanted each other, but there was depression on both parts, and a bashful lack of experience.

So we drank and wrestled. Pinning her was difficult, she was very strong and extremely stubbornly determined. Yet once she was defeated I had free reign over her body, where "reign" is an apt pun. It was an unspoken form of BDSM. I'd pull up her shirt, pinch her nipples, squeeze between her legs. She'd pant and kick but it was part of the game. She never cried out or fought in a way that might have caused me harm. It was all about submission after struggle. Yet she would never let me kiss her in submission. All the feels I wanted, but no making out. That was the line she drew and never once let me cross.

She was so lovely. And so moody, and so determined to maintain her independence.

December 21, 2017:

There's a reference in a very old journal suggesting that when my mother broke an ankle I rode my bike across town to come to her aid.

I don't remember this, but, it can be reconstructed easily enough.

She'd have called asking for help. She'd have refused paramedics — too expensive. I lived without a car, I'd have offered to ride my bike to her apartment, then use her car to drive her to hospital. She'd have agreed, but we would have talked explicitly about the time it would take for me to arrive. Twenty minutes from Ocean Beach to Clairemont.

I'd have hauled ass. Up Sunset Cliffs, across the bridge onto Sea World Drive, north on East Mission Bay, east on Clairemont Drive up the long hill. Or perhaps avoiding the hill slog by taking one of the steeper-but-shorter back streets up Bay Ho, say, Ingulf. I'd have ridden flat out, arrived puffing, grabbed her car keys, steadied her with her arm around my shoulders gingerly to the passenger seat. Then hauled more ass to the emergency room.

The reconstruction is straightforward. Yet it disturbs me that I have no memory of an event which would have been so striking and so stressful.

I was very upset with her that summer over entirely different events. Perhaps those unresolved conflicts drove other memories underground.

December 20, 2017:

There's something familiar about that time and place.

There shouldn't be. I was born at the end of that era into a race and culture which held those people in contempt.

Yet little by little that's where the roads led, until one day it felt like home.

My first clue should have been Chuck Berry. I love his attitude, the toughness inside those catchy tunes, the swing. But the thing I love down in my bones is Johnny Johnson. Berry's songs are piano boogies translated to guitar. Johnson's piano is the drive and the color. Berry's records without Johnson lack something. Johnny not Chuck is my main man.

Which led to Albert Ammons, Pine Top Perkins, Meade Lux Lewis, Caroline Dahl, Ladyva — and T-Rex.

My second clue should have been the fact that whenever I pick up a guitar I'll warm up with left-hand piano boogie riffs, growing increasingly complicated as my brain gets out of the way.

But the lightbulb came with Taylor Hackford's amazing biopic Ray. His recreations of the clubs in the '50s, the Chitlin Circuit, the clothes and the dances. It feels so familiar.

George Harrison said that when he first heard Indian music in the mid '60s "It felt familiar to me." Exactly.

It feels like home.