Mid-80s, a rush of blur, summer, heat, desire. Someone else inhabited this body, yet a part of me now, resided there then. I remember returning to L.A. in Mike Dunnigan's van withDave Hurricane. The Skoundrelz had played the Mabuhay Gardens in San Francisco. Dunnigan’s license plate read, "R U EXP."
It had been a rough trip. The way up, I fought through a wicked niacin flush in Gardia’s overheated pea green AMC Rebel. It wasTony Alva who fed it to me. He swore it covered a multitude of sins and I needed something like that. He didn’t warn me of the side effects.
We stayed in the Mission District with some punker chicks who were generous with their drugs. During the gig, Dave vomited on stage. It was a dreary night and the floors of the Mabuhay were as depressing as the era.
I wasn't one of those side-ponytail 80s girls who liked to have a good time on her parent's dime. I was on auto self-destruct. I had a burning compulsion to do damage mainly to myself. Of course it was something else entirely that I sought. Something tender and forgiving half-buried in the junk metal wasteland that was my life.
It was never really discussed that Mike was a Christian and he'd probably eschew that label anyway. It was known that he was sober and he kept an immaculate home, but these things were written off as eccentricities. He was wise to guard his faith.
I knew nothing of faith but sensed a gentle presence just beyond my reach. Since early childhood, I'd been drawn to churches even as my atheist parents shielded me from the truth. At night the streetlight reflected the shape of a cross on my textured bathroom window. I knew better than to ask my mother about it.
The drive back to L.A. with Mike had a comfortable cool about it. We took the coastal route into the mystic. The bucolic landscape refreshed the senses, fed the spirit. Too many hours spent in darkened rooms made a girl's skin the color of cement, her voice like asphalt.
Mike was really into Echo and the Bunnymen and Simple Minds. Dave seemed to like them, too. Their language was foreign to my ears, but over time, I acquired a taste for it. I was homeless at the time and that night Mike let me sleep on his sofa. He made it comfy for me with a pillow and blankets and treated me with an unfamiliar kindness and respect.
His home was sacred space and few people were allowed in. I understood nothing about Mike but I knew I was safe there.
Last week I put on "Songs to Learn and Sing," by the Bunnymen for old time's sake and I claimed my conversion song. I don't know if people actually have conversion songs, but "The Killing Moon" speaks to me so clearly of that freefall into the arms of Jesus. Even way back then, in the van, he was holding a net for me and in some small way, I knew it. Archangel Mike probably knew it, too.