Sunday before Christmas, 1991, and I realize I'm not in my bed.

The night before, I'd gone to a party in San Francisco where I didn't know too many people, so I ended up standing around the keg with an older guy most of the time. He was currently home for a few weeks after spending the summer and fall in Russia working on dismantling Chernobyl before heading off to China to overhaul their outdated energy system.

Maybe I snared him with chitchat about the finer points of working in the service industry, but there's no looking back once the sun has come up and I'm naked at his place doing shots of Slivovice. Clearly I blacked out, because the next thing I remember it was 11 in the morning and he was all showered and bringing me coffee and pastries in bed on a tray. I believe he had already gone for a run.

I knew I wasn't supposed to be there, and somehow an errant synapse in my fried brainpan told me that if I shouldn't be there, there was somewhere else I should be. I bolted out the door in my crusty underpants. Like I had done every pre-Christmas Sunday for the previous 16 years, I would be going to ...