One thing you can’t help learning about life is that most of the time it puts up a lot of resistance, as if you were trying to write a passionate love letter with a pen dipped in molasses. And yet every once in a while the resistance decreases. It did that from one day to the next during the January of my senior year in high school—the stuff things were made of softened and began to flow in unpredictable directions. At the time, I was listening to Ray Charles and John Coltrane every chance I got, I liked to read Dostoyevsky late at night, and I felt as though my balls might crack from internal pressure. The girls I knew at school seemed to think that getting good grades meant I shouldn’t want what their boyfriends wanted—but I made a hell of a confidant. If I couldn’t have a love life with them, at least they could tell me the truth about the ones they had.