Part 96: Lost Photo Recovered: A Snap From 1989
Riley drove all the way from Ventura, California, to Chico just to see me graduate from college, almost a seven hour drive. It's a hazy memory, I don't remember where he stayed or where we were in this photograph. Someone gave me a ceramic tea pot which I'm holding, it's spout had bright red movie star lips. Me in my robe and Reeboks, my hair damaged from over-coloring during my time working at "One Cut Above" as a receptionist, (I let the hairdressers do what they wanted, and ended up with hair like a Brillo pad) Dad with his summer jacket and shirt pocket overflowing with pens and cigars. The image was in a photo album I'd stored away decades ago, and my photographer friend fixed it for me, taking away the scratches and making it brighter.
Riley arrived in Chico that summer with a guy named Mark, a musician and songwriter who was trying to break in to the music business, Riley managing Mark's fledgling career. The two of them lived in a beach house for several years, and seemed to be having a great time together, making music and publishing songs, promoting their work.
I remember hoping that Mark drove from Ventura to Chico rather than Riley– my father's driving was an index to the way he lived his life; he'd speed up to stop signs, only to break at the last moment, lurching forward and suddenly stopping like a drunk driver, only he wasn't a drinker. I think he didn't drive much when he lived in New York City, and by the time we finally could afford a car, his skills were rough. When I was a kid, I used to believe I was born prone to car sickness. I'm not–– it was just all the uneven attention to the gas and break pedal.
I wish I could remember more about this visit we had in Chico. Riley wasn't thrilled that I'd gone to college, he believed school was a time waster, that it was better to do things, not study to do things. There's something to that, for sure, but I wanted to get away from all the confusion and his sometimes strange, unworkable advice on how to live.
Extra special thanks to Thomas Schworer for improving the old photograph.