While I Was Gone
All this happened early in the summer of 1968, when dozens of houses like ours had sprung up all over Cambridge, all over Berkeley and Chicago and Philadelphia and San Francisco. Some were more political than ours or had a theme of sorts-everyone was into organic food or political action or alternative theater or an arts magazine. Some were, like ours, mixed, a little bit of everything. You found rooms in these houses through bulletin boards, as I had, or through friends, or political organizations, or underground streams of information. They coexisted, often uneasily, with houses belonging to mostly working-class neighbors. People who took care of their yards, who repaired their railings, who had combination screens and storm windows, who kept their doors locked at night.
Not us. The door stood open around the clock. Music blared into the street from the windows-Jefferson Airplane, Otis Redding, Pablo Casals, the Stones, Julian Bream, the Beatles, Brahms, Janis Joplin. Bikes were parked all over the porch and the scrubby front yard. Unlocked, it goes without saying.
I lived that summer like a happy dream. I worked late at the blues club every night and often stayed up several hours later than that, talking to one or another of my housemates. Slowly, I felt, I came to know them all better than I'd ever known Ted, or anyone, in my other life. The house generally rose late through those summer months-no one but Sara had normal working hours-and often two or three of us did something together in the daytime. Drove to Singing Beach, took a picnic and a Frisbee down to the river. On a rainy day, we went to the movies. Or played long, cutthroat games of Scrabble in the living room, with the windows open to the porch and the steady racket of the rain on the porch roof or dripping down on the leaves of the leggy lilac bushes.