Tuesday, August 1, 2017


While reading a chapter today from Haruki Murakami's novel, Colorless Tsukuru Tazaki, which described the protangonist's college days relationship with a fellow student, I was reminded by an old relationship from my own past. I was just out of college at PSU, and Phil, my friend, was, rather more impressively, just out of Reed, and we were both working as copy clerks at the Oregon Journal (which, I guess, goes to show you that a prestigious college doesn't always mean a lot). 

In any case, we became friends at work, and eventually got into the habit of meeting at his apartment on Friday or Saturday night. It was always at his apartment in downtown Portland, a dingy, draby, echoing, gray building where each floor had one community bathroom; never at my house, because I had a wife, and a kid, and Phil could bear the company of neither wives nor children. 

We had both graduated as literature majors and were in the process of graduating to careers of alcoholism and marijuana addiction. Without these substances, we may well have not been able to bear one another's company either. 

So we would meet in his apartment, I with my pint of rum, he with his weed, and have long discussions about literature, arguing about Hemingway, whom he despised, or admiring Faulkner, whom we both worshipped. 

Phil was very bright, one might say 'weirdly' bright, but had no discernible heart. I usually needed half a pint, more or less, to dull my own heart and therefore debate on an equal standing. 

It was a strange relationship, when I think back on it now, but it was all we had. My marriage, by that time was unhappy. And Phil was naturally unhappy. 

Eventually, I quit the Journal and went back to college, for no particular reason, while Phil moved up to writing obituaries and little bits on community events. And we stopped meeting. 

I did run into him at a Fred Meyers store years later. He had married, surprisingly, and now had a child, surprisingly. And also, I note, a heart. We exchanged phone numbers, said we would meet, kick around old times. 

But we never did. Those times were gone, and, honestly, left not much to miss. 

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