February 18, 2018:

In the first of many firsts she took me to hang with her sophisticated twenty-something friend on India Street across I-5 from the airport. We stopped for corn tortillas from the Old Town Tamale Factory which we toasted on forks over stove burners and ate rolled up with butter. It was my first exposure to Monty Python, Neil Young, and weed, all in one afternoon, between wall-rattling landings of passenger jets passing directly overhead.

Neil Young: "Down by the ri-ver... I SHOT my bay-bee..." I thought, The guitar is striking, the voice is striking, the lyrics are... um... kinda murder-y? Maybe? But it was powerful, a more raw kind of rock than I'd been listening to. Garage-y, punk-y, definitely edgy. It's strongest influence on me was years later but in that moment I was transfixed.

Monty Python: "We apologize for the previous apology." And: "Nooo one expects the Spanish Inquisition!" Least of all me. I hadn't known it was possible to make comedy like that. It was so wide. It broke all the walls: the record talking to you about the fact that it's a record. I laughed myself breathless. A life-changing moment in which the world became both broader and more colorful over one side of an LP.

The weed was probably as much sage as cannabis. I remember the high being shallow and giggly. But I was laughing so hard over the Spanish Inquisition that it was probably as much hyperventilation as THC.

Every few minutes a jet would land, the walls would shake, our conversation would pause on hold. It wasn't exactly a bohemian garret in Paris or a beatnik loft in SoHo, but it was the closest you'd come to it in San Diego in 1975.

I was seventeen when I sat crosslegged on that fellow's floor passing joints and spinning records. I was older when we left.

My girlfriend's kisses tasted of strawberries. She was a lovely kisser. She was brilliant, hilarious, beautiful. Very powerful, very strong. An alpha female who liked me somehow or saw something in me which she set out to nurture. I grew more in a few months with her than in twelve years of public schools.

Today my new girlfriend is also a lovely kisser. She doesn't know Monty Python, or Neil Young; and her contemporary weed is far more potent than the historical version that existed back in the day. Perhaps I'll share Python and Young with her when we're high one day soon. It's an entirely different social and generational context, making it unlikely lighting will strike twice. But it'll be sweet, and I'll tell her about my experience with these things all those years ago, and about the brilliant, hilarious, beautiful young woman who taught me so much.