In between cramming for finals and finishing up my first year of concentration on children, we spent long hours driving around in his 1970 burnt-orange Opel station wagon―truly one of the ugliest cars ever manufactured―or hanging out at the beach house on Long Island Sound near Milford, Connecticut, where he lived with his roommates. At aparty there one night, Bill and I ended up in the kitchen talking about what each of us wanted to do after graduation. I still didn't know where I would live and what I would do because my interests in child advocacy and civil rights didn't dictate a particular path. Bill was absolutely certain: He would go home to Arkansas and run for public office.
I told Bill about my summer plans to clerk at Treuhaft, Walker and Burnstein, a small law firm in Oakland, California, and he announced that he would like to go to California with me. I was astonished. I didn't know what to say.
"Why," I asked, "do you want to give up the opportunity to do something you love to follow me to California?"
"For someone I love, that's why," he said. He had decided, he told me, that we were destined for each other, and he didn't want to let me go just after he'd found me.
Bill and I shared a small apartment near a big park not far from the University of California at Berkeley campus where the Free Speech Movement started in 1964.
People have said that I knew Bill would be President one day and went around telling anyone who would listen. I don't remember thinking that until years later, but I had one strange encounter at a small restaurant in Berkeley. I was supposed to meet Bill, but I was held up at work and arrived late. There was no sign of him, and I asked the waiter if he had seen a man of his description. A customer sitting nearby spoke up, saying, "He was here for a long time reading, and I started talking to him about books. I don't know his name, but he's going to be President someday." "Oh, Yeah, right," I said, "but do you know where he went?"
At the end of the summer, we returned to New Haven and rented the ground floor of 21 Edgewood Avenue for seventy-five dollars a month. We shopped for furniture at the Goodwill and Salvation Army stores and were quite proud of our student decor.
We both had to work to pay our way through law school, on top of the student loans we had taken out. But we still found time for politics. Bill decided to open a McGovern for President headquarters in New Haven, using his own money to rent a storefront. New Haven was one of the few places in America that voted for McGovern over Nixon.
After Christmas, Bill drove up from Hot Springs to Park Ridge to spend a few days with my family. My mother appreciated his good manners and willingness to help with the dishes. But Bill really won her over when he found her reading a philosophy book from one of her college courses and spent the next hour or so discussing it with her. It was slow going at first with my father, I wondered what he'd say to a southern Democrate with ever sideburns, he warmed up over games of cards, and in front of the television watching football bowl games. After I introduced Bill to Betsy Johnson, her mother, Roslyn, cornered me on the way out of their house and said, "I don't care what you do,but don't let this one go. He's the only one I've ever seen make you laugh!"