Berkeley Night Town
Walking south on Bowditch Street I glance in at middle-class yards: birdbaths, hoses and sprinklers, Pyracantha hedges framing the chrome handlebars of bicycles gleaming in starlight. The full moon follows me, winking through emaciated branches of cherry trees; my legs feel heavy as if I were walking underwater, trudging through the April night in a diving suit. I think of my dad, who'd lived somewhere in this neighborhood–"just south of Durant," my mother told me–in 1936, the year he graduated from Cal. Twenty-five years ago he would've been one of those invisible presences I'm walking past, dreaming like them as the sea of moonlight laps against the windowpanes.
Indulging in what Baudelaire called a divine prostitution of the soul–like Baudelaire himself on the cobblestones of Montparnasse–I want to enter the lives of strangers–no, to become them. This urge is so intense and unexpected that my eyes fill with tears. Embarrassed–even though no one is near–I blink the tears away and walk back to my Parker Street apartment, falling into a deep, dreamless sleep.
I know that others have experienced such moods–a wonderful, manic, irrational affection for everything–the frame of mind I started out with that night turned inside out like a sock. Killing my deep depression, I know now, would've killed the epiphany it mysteriously produced.
Would I have done so–annihilate the one by annihilating the other? Yes.