Wednesday, April 19, 2006

The thing is, you never know.

Growing up in Palo Alto, it wasn't unusual to have friends go to school at Cal. That's UC Berkeley for the uninitiated. Even though growing up on the better side of the bay, in the shadow of Hoover Tower, had made me a Stanford fan, I still kept in touch with my friends at Cal, even from my school--UC Irvine, way down south.

Sure, UCI's a Cal system school. Just because I was a fan didn't mean that I could get into Stanford, even if my Mom's an alum. Hey, some things skip a generation. 3B can go to Stanford. On a full scholarship for his groundbreaking research, of course.

But, back to the friends at Cal. For those of you who were in the area at the time, particularly those of us who knew someone, or several someones, who were going to Cal or living in Berkeley, as I did in 1990, you were shocked and terrified to hear the news of the shootings and hostage situation at Henry's. Until we had all heard that everyone we knew was OK, it was a scary time.

Fortunately, nobody who I knew at the time was involved. I breathed a sigh of relief, held a thought in my mind for those who were lost, injured, or held hostage, and then went on with my friends. To this day I've never been in Henry's, but I knew my friends were regulars of various sorts, and I distinctly remember walking by with my buddy Philippe the next time that I visited. It was definitely not a good feeling, and I was glad to still have him around.

The memories of those feelings of panic and relief and of trying to understand the tragic horror of that situation have stuck with me to this day. So, it was with great surprise that I read this morning that MetroDad was one of those in Henry's that day. It took me back to that time, made me wonder what all those friends I knew then are doing now. I keep in semiregular touch with Philippe, but I've drifted away from the others.

Interestingly, however, I'm now more closely connected, these many years later, to someone who was in Henry's that day, although he and I are both living on the opposite coast, neither of us in the same city, neither of us having met the other in person. Nonetheless, his brief account brought back to me all of those feelings of fearing for those who I love, fearing the possible loss, but now coupled with the sadness of knowing that I did know someone in there that day. (Although MD did, in his inimitable way, lighten the sadness with his tale of serenading Berkeley's finest with Swing Low, Sweet Chariot from the roof of a car as a result of that day.)

Goddamn Walt Disney was right. It is a small freakin' world, after all.

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