Philip Weiss,

Philip Weiss,

A weeklong electronic journal.
Aug. 7 1998 3:30 AM

Philip Weiss,

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       I crept out of a friend's house in Minnesota at 5 this morning, trying not to wake anybody, but the hinges squeaked. The foyer's inner door wouldn't stay where I left it but fell away with a long cry, then the outer door opened with a sharp meow. I thought I could keep the meow from getting into the house by closing the inner door after me, but I had my backpack on and couldn't fit through without both doors being open ... well, you get the picture.
       The cab was there to take me to the airport. I was pensive, trying to remember the first place that I and a friend I'd seen at a party last night made love. It was 21 years ago, and I'd never been so intoxicated. She was insouciant, dissolute, beautiful. Now I couldn't remember that first time. I wondered if it was my small apartment in the Indian neighborhood, or her room under the eaves of her parents' house overlooking the Mississippi. My apartment, probably. I thought of our first date, when at 4 in the morning we made out on the River Road and I asked her if I could touch her "here" and she said not if you have to ask.
       The party was at her brother's house in Minneapolis. He was as dissolute as she was back then, but sweeter. He has always made me laugh. I loved her big, smart family. In one giant step I'd gone from my sheltered, scientific Jewish family to a politically prominent but ambitionless Nordic family, and the change felt dizzying. She kept me out too late and we did mescaline and she twisted the dial of the car radio impatiently to find James Brown. It was the surreal Minnesota winter. Her boyfriend was in prison on drug charges. That summer she dropped me for a musician, at a party on Nicollet Island where we drank rum from jars.
       She and I have always kept in touch, and in the cab I thought of writing her a letter to ask: Where, Mo? I imagined she would write back in her good script to say that it isn't something she wants to think about now. When I saw her last night, a jeweled crucifix hung down on her pretty breastbone. She talked of partying and stubbed out cigarettes behind her on the porch rail, soon a bunch of cigarettes, burned right to the crunched filter. She has had a hard life. Always merry and bright, she used to say, ironically. But I'd never judge her. I still feel so grateful, she brought me out into the world.