August 16th, 2010


Day 7

Day 07. A song that reminds you of a certain event

First off, I'll be blunt: I'm gonna cheat on this one by misinterpreting "an event" to mean "an episode of my life." I'd apologize, but whatever, you're getting this for free so it's not like you're losing out or anything.

As mentioned in an earlier post this month, I moved in to a rental house in Oakland (the garage, actually) after graduating from university. I'd know the rest of the housemates there because cbertsch was the previous tenant of that garage; most everyone in the house was a grad student (English department) at UC Berkeley at the time. This included a strapping young red-bearded man by the name of Josh.

Now listen up, kids. Back in 1992, bears were not widely known. Bear magazine numbers had just crept into the double digits, the Internet was not widely used, pop cultural references were virtually nil, and things were on the whole, well, different. In my social circles at the time, however, it was generally known that I was attracted to men who looked like myself, even if the two boyfriends I'd had up until graduation were only marginally bearish. As a result, I was fortunate to have friends looking out for one of my best interests. Now, I didn't know Josh well, and we were never friends, but we did become housemates. Josh was straight. Josh was also a reader of Granta, the UK literary magazine. And one day in 1992, Josh handed me a copy of Issue 38 of Granta, which contained a story entitled Bears in Mourning, written by Welsh novelist Adam Mars-Jones. (You can read this story here if you'd like.)

Oh, to be young again. Bears in Mourning affected me deeply. Being 22 and not as self-conscious as I am today, I borrowed other housemate's Ben's Macintosh IIci and wrote a fan letter. (I am cringing as I type this.) Much to my amazement, Adam wrote back (even though I had mistakenly read the story as autobiography and not as fiction, which is making me cringe AGAIN as I type this.) A friendship developed; we met for the first time after reading from his Monopolies of Loss at A Different Light in San Francisco over dinner at Ma Tante Sumi along with Bruce, the guy who gave me the copy of the new recording Einstein on the Beach. A year later, I flew to London to visit for a week, and danlmarmot picked me up at the airport. I had a blast: Adam was then the film critic for the Independent, so I got to sneak in to a press screening of The Hudsucker Proxy with him. We saw Eddie Izzard perform in a David Mamet play. I rode around London on the back of his Harley. I met Salman Rushdie at Erica Jong's book launch (for Fear of Fifty) at the Groucho Club. And I met a young girl that enjoyed a particular song very, very much:

As a result, I think of Adam whenever I hear the word Albuquerque; I was reminded of him when mlr mentioned the city. It's just one of those things.

Sadly, it all ended badly. I'll just say that I made mistakes - sadly not surprising for a 24 year old - and didn't do by right by our friendship. In early 1997, his new book arrived in my post box in Sunnyvale, CA. The dedication reads in part thusly: For Christopher, in memory of friendship.

And that's the last I heard of Adam.