Forty Years Later
November 22nd, this Saturday, the anniversary of Kennedy's assassination. When you're my age you remember. What? Forty years? Jesus. I was twenty, stumbling down the stairs of my fraternity house at eleven in the morning looking for breakfast, wondering finally why everyone was standing around looking so glum. "What?" I asked Chris in the kitchen. "They shot the president." They've shot the president. Shit.
I didn't ask myself "what does this mean". I wasn't smart enough or introspective enough or aware enough to ask. There was nothing to compare it to from direct experience. What might it mean for this shitty little action in Vietnam nobody was thinking about in 1963? What might it mean for any of us who were just then emerging from our schoolboy - schoolgirl sleep, entering the adult world now where weird shit really happened? When you were plugged into the actual machine? The Korean war ended in the fifties, World War II in the forties. I was barely alive in the forties, in grade school in the fifties, didn't know anything about either one of them except from books and magazines. The Vietnam era was my way too close and personal introduction to the vagaries of the wider world. Freaky shit.
So, forty years ago, the guy who marked the passing of the American Roach from the World War II generation to the waiting fingers of the Baby Boomer generation was shot down and then his brother was shot down and then Martin Luther King was shot down and then everyone started getting shot down in one's and two's on the news and in the papers. Which was disconcerting.
I came to California after the army. You understand we all came here looking for the end of the rainbow fleeing these very realities; some of us rather successfully sinking into this sunlit dream of denial. You know it. I know it. Yet here's the world, still out there trying to bring us down. There was never a time when presidents were not being shot, there was never a time when there were no bombers, bullets or low down dirty dealers, some of whom practice their craft right here in Oakland. You can run, but you cannot hide. Forty years later.
More progress repacking boxes and eliminating junk here in the living room. A temporary crown added this morning at the dentist's office. A walk downtown to take a walk downtown in the sun. Here in Oakland.