Driven to Celebrate a Birthday
Looking in the rearview mirror to understand today
By Ed Goldman
Kim consented. And for two-and-a-half years, our relationship was romantic. But stormy. Let me clarify that: I was stormy, roiling with equal measures of testosterone and egotism. Accordingly, and wisely, she broke up with me, seemingly for good, in February of 1969, during our second semester at Long Beach City College. I was, to use an overused word, devastated, for many years.
Kim lives in Long Beach, and a few days after that visit to see me in Sacramento, the world and the state fell under house arrest. The commuter romance we’d been cherishing became a cyber one.
Kim and Ed at The Waterboy restaurant in Sacramento’s midtown. Ed drove.
It was a brainless thing to fret about but that’s how brainless looked in 1966 if you went to Lakewood Senior High School, an all-white school in an all-white blue-collar and white-collar town that lay in the shadow of the once powerhouse aircraft plant McDonnell-Douglas, which was the town’s biggest employer. But, to adapt an annoying phrase, it was what it was. And we were what we were.
The ridiculous fact is that the notion evidently took up residence in my subconscious. For our first new date last September, I flew down to Long Beach to take Kim to the electric parade at Disneyland and dinner at the park’s Blue Bayou restaurant, a bucket-list episode for her which I recounted in my February 14 column, “Valentines Stay,” which provides the solemn story behind the visit.
When it was time to go there, around dusk, Kim insisted she drive us in her SUV. “I rented a car,” I either bleated or pleaded. But she had been very ill and driving seemed to reconnect her to normalcy, which was much more intelligent than my reason for wanting to be behind the wheel. Oh, I was no longer concerned people would see her driving me and think she was older than I was—in fact, she’d just had her 69th birthday and my own was still several weeks away—but I still longed to drive. It was no longer an adolescent optic of empowerment; it had evolved into simply wanting to take care of her.