With September, the pace picks up even if the heat stubbornly lingers. Nobody takes the heat seriously anymore. No one has time for it. For ten years of unclassified graduate studies--drifting between San Francisco State and the University of California at Berkely--September meant the unbound excitement of new and brilliant professors, men and women who could hold forth so brilliantly that my slowness of reading a text wasn't going to matter. I could listen to their scintillating lectures--vivid descriptions of the Romantic era, their analyses of Marxism--while sribbling fast in my notebook, feeling my mind sharpen again, flood with ideas, dependent as it was so much on outside stimuli. Defeated by impenetrable books, I lived off my teachers' words.
September meant bounty: whether I could read them or not the books were delicious--a new edition of Shakespeare edited by Kittredge. When I struggled through every single footnote to one comedy, I had "gotten it, " the bard's language. The bookstores were jammed.
When my beloved Stan started teaching, I squeezed my way through the aisles to see his name: Professor Rice, printed beneath the books that he had assigned to his students. It seemed the ultimate.
We were always rushing off to school, off to an extra job, off to see the new opera that had just opened the season. Everyone and every passion had a new chance.
The heat might still be there, mind you, but we felt superior. We new it was dying. And we were alive. Throngs descended on the big city campus of San Francisco State; hordes moved into the brown-ceder-shingled house of Berkely. At your favorite restaurant on Telegraph Avenue, you had to wait now; but it didn't matter. You were reading Camus, or Nietszche, or Richardson's Clarissa, or arguing about a film.
There would be no boredom for nine months again. And throughout my life, it seems that rhythm continues. I wake in September--to tour, to go out to see the readers, to shake hands and listen to comments, to sign my name in novels written during the hotter, silent months of the year before, when I was sealed inside in a state of suspended animation.
Then one morning, the heat is simply gone. There is no difference between the air in the house and the air outside it, and the breezes can open the doors now if they want to.
Claudia in Interview with the Vampire is born in September, because my daughter Michele, was born in September, on the twenty-first of the month. I didn't include Claudia's birthday until Queen of the Damned, the third book in the Vampire Chronicles. But I had always known what it was: not the day Claudia was born, but the day that Lestat snatched her from dying and made her immortal. Michele, my daughter, had died in August of 1972.
September. Even when I was very, very little I loved it, because it meant new shoes.