In West Virginia in 1974 we were all in need of fortune-tellers. No one was sure what was happening in the outside world and no one thought about it much. We had no televisions and we bought few newspapers. Communal life in Morgantown seemed a continual dance in which everyone changed partners, a patient attempt at domesticity by children taking turns being parents. We were adrift but we were together. A group of us floated between several large ramshackle houses, houses arranged above and below each other on steep streets: a gritty version of terraced dwellings in some exotic Asia. The houses were old and comfortable, furnished with an accumulation of overstuffed chairs and velveteen sofas gleaned from rummage sales. There were no curtains at the large windows, whose rectangular sooty light was interrupted only by tangles of viney plants. The plants were fed haphazardly and thrived, like anything green in that town, enveloping sills and frames still fitted with the original wavy glass of seventy years before. The old glass was pocked with flaws and minute bubbles, distorting further the vision of a town already oddly displaced and dreamed in jagged pieces. Houses of the student ghetto were the landscape of the dream – a landscape often already condemned.
I lived in a house on Price Street with three male housemates: a Lebanese photographer from Rochester, New York, a Jewish instructor of transcendental meditation from Michigan, and a carpenter-musician, a West Virginian, who’d worked in the doomed McCarthy campaign and dropped out of Harvard Law to come home and learn house-building.
This story could be about any one of those people, but it is about Rayme and comes to no conclusions.