A First

Lois GoodwillEditor’s note: Dr. Lois Goodwill is a retired clinical psychologist and co-author, with the late Don Asher, of Entangled: A Chronicle of Late Love, a memoir in two voices released by Heyday in July. Born in Montreal, Canada, she holds degrees from McGill University in Montreal and the Wright Institute in Berkeley. She enjoys attending theater and symphony performances and volunteer work. She is an enthusiastic hiker and walker. She is the mother of four children and grandmother of eleven. She lives in San Francisco.

This is closer to first steps than to First Lady, but I am off the diving board and possibly into deep water. If swimming is the metaphor for writing, then I suppose I will be okay on this aquatic adventure, since it is motivated by the need to publicize my just-released first book ever: Entangled, coauthored with Don Asher. With the book already published by Heyday, in the stores, and on Amazon.com, I guess I can write…but can I blog?

In a meeting with Heyday marketing and publicity people at a local café just this morning, perhaps intoxicated by my nonfat latte, I said, “Certainly, once a week, about 750 words at a time…not a problem…I keep a journal.” I didn’t stop to think that the journal is bedside and personal; this is public. Yet in the contemporary world there seems to be a diaphanous veil, or perhaps no scrim at all, between private and public. Would I publish my journal? It seems that with the release of Entangled, I have already done that, baring my most intimate thoughts and emotions as I went through my very own “summer of love” about five years ago.

During the sixties, when the birth control pill was new and AIDS had not darkened the scene, there was born in the Haight-Ashbury district the original marijuana and LSD-fueled Summer of Love. At that time, I lived in Montreal with a husband, a few small children, a large dog, a station wagon (the forerunner to today’s ubiquitous SUV), and a head and heart full of longings to be free and flow with the hippie crowd in San Francisco.

Almost half a hundred years later, I do live above the Haight. The children are grown, the husband (and a few lovers) gone, and my substances of choice are caffeine and wine, each at their own time of day. I remind myself why I forgo the pleasure of a canine companion with a formula that factors in the average dog’s length of life in days and the approximate number of dumps per day to be scooped, and arrives at a figure that is all too many bags of poop. No more dogs!

As for that personal “summer of love,” it is the stuff of Entangled. You can come to one of my readings and ask questions of this author, or just join me in musing on the paths our lives take.

My coauthor, Don Asher, actually lived in the Haight during the sixties. He published one of his first books, The Electric Cotillion, while living a few doors south of where I now live, facing a large and leafy park. There is a plaque, rusted but still legible, to mark the location where he wrote that book, in a third-floor flat on the Left Coast while I danced with a mop in my Canadian kitchen wearing a dashiki dyed in tea, beads down to my bosom, and hair floating way below my shoulders. Those were the outward trappings of an imagined life. My reality consisted of trips to the supermarket, stroller pushing, dropping little boys off at nursery school and then, short hours later, picking them up, and getting dressed up as a proper young matron to accompany my husband and friends to Saturday night dinners at the Ritz, where we drank cocktails, ate cherries jubilee, and danced the mambo.

In the pages of late-sixties Time magazine, among the articles about the Viet Nam War and Separatism for French Canada, I remember noting an image of a writer with a tweed jacket and an Afro hairstyle. The big-haired man was said to be an up-and-coming West Coast writer, Don Asher.

In 1979 I moved to San Francisco and within months had met the formerly “up-and-coming” writer. A friend had brought Don to a party my husband and I gave to expand our new social circle. The Afro was gone; in fact much of the hair was gone, but he had by then not only published quite a few books and articles in prestigious journals but made a name for himself as a jazz piano payer in local cafés. Within a few years my marriage was no more. Within a year or two of that drastic upheaval in my life, Don and I became lovers. That was the very beginning of the entanglement that would carry us through the almost twenty-five years in which we shared much and still retained our independent ways…until there came another event of cataclysmic proportions.

That later upheaval is the stuff of Entangled.