I learned today about the death of a man who directly and indirectly made my undergraduate experience what it was. I heard the news via email from my former boyfriend and then from my former professor. When I turned to Facebook for more information, I was surprised to find an effective use of social media in the pretty wonderful memorial there, a gathering of reminisces and anecdotes and jokes and ways Doc touched so many people. The UHC really is a beautiful legacy that he leaves, and I’m so glad I was able to experience it.
The strangest part of hearing this news and thinking about Doc’s life is that there’s no one here in my San Francisco life to really commiserate with about it — no one who knows what I’m talking about. For all anyone knows, I’m making it up. And as soon as I started thinking about Doc and Pitt and the UHC, reading people’s stories and memories, my own memories flooded. Getting stuck in the Cathedral elevator. Nestea bottles that wouldn’t break. In over my head about the Russian Revolution. Reading Elliot lyrics on the roof of the 14th floor. Oven rack kleptomaniac. Roadie for a PittArts blues guitar lesson. What the Honors College needs is sluts; more sluts. Wine tasting drunkenness and Mexican dinner. For tonight, you are in my hair and in my eyes. Unfashionably late to dinner with esteemed English Department faculty. The pack of tards. Ah, ah, ah, are fa-jai-tas on the menu? I don’t want to explain these things; I want you to know.
I wanted to talk with someone who had been there, who knew the references, knew the backstory. It’s weird to have a whole chunk of your life feel so yours and yours alone, especially so formative a chunk. It’s probably the way a lot of people feel about college, but I think a lot of people keep in contact with more college friends than I do. I moved away, I broke ties, I lost touch with the people who shared these memories.
I’m not alone; I know that. I have amazing people in my life, and some of them have probably heard me reminisce enough to know at least a little of the context. But that feeling of being alone in your memories, alone in your past experiences — it’s is a strange one.
I’m glad for each memory and story, though, and I wouldn’t have had them without Doc. Thanks, Doc.
“You will remember the kisses, real or imagined; / You will remember the faces that were before you, and the words exchanged; / You will remember the minute crowded with meaning, the moment of pain, the aimless hour; / You will remember the cities, and the plains, and the mountains, and the sea, / . . . / These are the things that will return to you, / To mingle with the days and nights, with the sound of motors and the sun’s warmth, / With fatigue and desire, / As you work, and sleep, and talk, and laugh, and die.” -Kenneth Fearing