Tuesday, May 03, 2016

When I was Archie at Riverdale High

There were gorgeous years in there, when I had my first chance to live alone and got an apartment on College Avenue in Oakland, right across from the Edible Complex. Back then, there was a club called the A Line that played live jazz and I'd open my windows and have the music float in at night.

But the true magic happened outside, as in immediately outside my apartment. Because I was in the middle of bookshops, cafes, burrito bars, and bakeries, my block attracted everyone. At least everyone I knew. I only had to step outside to cross paths with someone from college or work or a pal from behind the bookstore counter.

Over the years, I handed over that apartment to my dear friend Meggy, who then passed it on to my sister Jenny, who then got it to our camp counselor buddy Mira. What this meant was years and years of loved ones associated with the place and its environs.

One day, it was either Jenny or my husband Steve who said that the apartment and College Avenue was Riverdale High. You could not go more than a few steps without finding Jughead, Betty, Veronica, or, well, yes the occasional person you wanted to avoid, Reggie. So we'd report our "Archie" moments to each other, which sometimes involved just running into each other, to boot. Oakland is a village.

What I did not understand then, and too fully, painfully realize now, was those were not just good times, they were freaking golden times. And I know we were good about it and reveled in what we had, this group of friends always circling about and popping by. I would cross my fingers because I felt so lucky, too lucky. But I didn't know I was going to lose my dearest friend of the bunch, my sister.

I know all the cliches. You cannot get that time back. Appreciate each moment. Live every day as if--whatever. These all ring true to me, but they are not enough.

I want to believe that there is something even deeper, even richer. Some perfect split second of truth that I could somehow access from that time. Dig into it, breathe it in, feel the sun to fog of 5pm in Oakland, and how that far-off gaze can suddenly snap into a moment of recognition. Archie! You're here again? Didn't I just see you at Pop Tate's?

There she is. Jenny laughing at something, reading something, suggesting something just very daily life yet outlandish, like getting dim sum. Now? I hope I said yes. I'm pretty sure I said yes.