After spending time in the Bay Area, 1980s
Its been unusually warm this January. Which is okay (for now), especially since I just spent the last 3 months in the San Francisco Bay Area of California. But now I am glad to back among my family and friends here in semi-rural central Maine. It too a little while to adjust from the huge traffic jams on I-80 in Berkeley to the almost rural 1–95 running by Bangor.
I had to accept that there were not seven million more people in the surrounding area (all of Maine contains just a little over 1 million people). Or that there were not dense concentrations of people, housing, industry, trains, shipyards and huge bridges, etc.
The cold wasn’t so bad, considering that it rained for almost a week the last week I was in California. I had spent the last two weeks in hotels and motels before I left so I welcomed a more quite stable home life. I’ll admit that I missed living only a block from the City Lights bookstore in North Beach for part of my stay there. The local Borders at the Bangor Mall here is no comparison. The variety, radicalism and far out weirdness of many of City Lights books and magazines were a real treat.
It reminded me of why I first went out to ‘Frisco’ back in 1963. I had been going to the University of Missouri and my girlfriend introduced me to a picture book about the ‘Beats’ and bohemians that she had brought at City Lights (she had come from Peidmont, across the Bay from S.F.). When she broke up with me, I was determined to go to that bookstore (and hopefully to see her again). I hitchhiked out there with my cousin, Don, and the first place we stayed was a cheap hotel in North Beach. We came in March expecting ‘sunny’ California weather but the cold windy fog in the city went right through my thin Midwestern jacket.
After 3 weeks we were unable to find work and I ended up joining the Navy (a big mistake) in order to have a room over my head and three squares a day. My cousin was rejected for high…