This day always holds dread and portent for me as it marks the day in my childhood when my best friend, Jonathan, was killed; yet there is another story of attachment and loss that also clusters around this day in the watery tumult of my psyche.
It all goes back to high school—junior year honors English. Ellen was in my class and of course I thought she was cute. I sat one row over and one seat back, and thus my year was spent stealing glances at her as my mind drifted in and out, but mostly away, from Jude the Obscure.
The very last week of class the teacher invited us all to her house and on the way out, with summer stretched endlessly before me, I somehow found the courage to ask Ellen out on a date and was elated and shocked when she said yes. I had asked out girls before, and had a good long history of “no” (particularly humiliating was my freshman year honors English fail with the girl who sat in front of me as my mind wandered away from the likes of Pride and Prejudice—I could simply not persuade that girl, a full head taller than me, to go on a date where we would ride our bikes). But in 1977 I had a license to drive, and so Ellen would be picked up in a car.