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Friday, 17 March 1967
San Francisco State University
How the hell am I going to tell her?
Greg Halstead trudged across campus, head bowed, arms wrapped around his textbook He'd gotten used to San Francisco fog, but today it seemed oppressive, closing in on him, add he longed for a sight of the open ocean. He'd always loved the sea, ever since he was a kid. Back home in Jenner, some seventy miles up the coast, he'd spent most of, his free I time when be wasn't working at Halstead Drugs, that is either on the Russian River or on the coast, swimming off Goat Rock, running along the beach, climbing the cliffs, orjotand staring but at the vast gray expanse of the Pacific. It thrilled him to think dig the way he felt was probably the same way Balboa had felt, the first time lip gazed he that seemingly endless sea four centuries before. He stood still for. a moment, facing west, imagining Lake Merced and the ocean that lay beyond it. There was such serene power there ... with no hint of the conflict raging on the other side, half a world away.
Is there any chance that she'll understand?
He turned and started off again. He was headed for the Student Union and his regular Friday afternoon date with Marci Cochran, a Berkeley student his sister Pat had introduced him to well over a year ago. He'd been a sophomore at the time and Pat just a freshman, but she'd always been more social than her brother, more outgoing, quicker to become intimate with people, Within a week of arriving on campus, she'd made dozens of new friends, while he was still something of a loner. Afteralmost three years now, there weren't more than' three or four guys that he could say he knew well. Even his roommates there were six of them crammed into a tiny two-bedroom apartment-were more acquaintances than friends. Somehow he just didn't seem to have much in common with them.
But Pat knew everyone, not only here at State, but across the bay in Oakland as well. She'd met Marci at a Berkeley peace rally, and they'd quickly become fast friends. Since Marci had her own car, she would frequently drive over to see Pat, and on one of those visits Greg had run into the two of them on their way to the Student Union. Pat had asked him to join them, and he did, he still wasn't sure why. The three of them had talked for hours. Then Pat left, and he and Marci had talked for hours more.
He'd long since forgotten the specifies of what they'd talked about. He'd never known anyone like Marci,She was so. . . so alive, so interested in everyone and everything. He didn't agree with a lot of what she said, but arguing with her was exciting, stimulating. At first he wondered if she was hanging around him just to try to convert him to her freespeech, antiwar ideas, but soon their relationship deepened. She was bright and witty. Sex with her was spectacular, but they had so much more in common as well. This past fall she'd gotten an apartment by herself out in Oakland, and Greg had been spending most of his weekends there. They would meet here at State after Greg's last class, have a late lunch at the Student Union, and then drive back across the bay.
But not this weekend.
Greg came to a stop outside the tall, rough stone building. He hadn't yet figured out how much of Marci's activist talk was motivated by deep conviction and how much by an eagerness to be involved in something that seemed exciting, with people who were doing exciting things. He'd felt the lure himself, and certainly it explained Pat's involvement. When he'd first met Marci, he'd assumed that she was just a spoiled rich kid kind of playing at being an activist. He wasn't so sure anymore.
He had a feeling he'd be finding out pretty soon.
Taking a deep breath, he pushed open the door of the Student Union, crossed the main lounge, and awed down the steps to the snack bar in the basement. As he entered the snack bar, he could hear that new Beatles tune "Penny Lane," playing on the college radio. A quick glance around the room told him he'd beaten Marci there, so he grabbed a tray and got in line. A couple of hamburgers, some French fries, a Coke-typical college fare. It didn't matter what he got; he didn't think he'd even notice the taste. He found a free table and sat down facing the entrance so he could see Marci when she came in. Somehow, he thought, I've got to be able to make her understand.
He'd become more and more fed up with college over the past two year& His first year had been pretty exciting, the heady experience of being away from home for the first time, being in a big city, the thrill of large university, classes. . . but after a while he felt that most of the other students weren't there to get an education at all. It was like they were just playing at being adults, without accepting any of the responsibilities. Some of the guys. he was sure, were only there to avoid the draft and more and more of them lately had been getting into the freespeech movement, carrying the First Amendment to ridiculous extremes.
The worst of it was, he no longer felt that he was getting a good education. So many of the professors seemed to be knuckling under. to student protests and watering down their courses. Even his history profs seemed more concerned with...