Tuesday, March 18, 2008

A homing beacon.

What was promised has yet to come.
So here instead, is something muddled and addled and mad. Cheers.


I came here to see a friend.

That one friend, actually. The one that once upon a sometimes propagated this place with mention after mention, the only person who ever really took root in these bimonthly (not always) writings of white on black.

Until she left.

On that day, she was the one to whom I said goodbye. “Sayounara, fweckles.”
That was two years ago. Not exactly, but very nearly. Here we are, two years on.
Here I am. I’m sitting in a bowling alley on a Saturday night on the classically afflicted Ides of March. I’m alone. Surrounding me are people of various assortments, decked out in tattoos and leathers, while they stand next to families, and four year old girls who wrap themselves cozy in squishy pink coats.

I’m in West Allis, Wisconsin.
In this sprawling expanse of land that’s somewhat like a colder version of Northridge, California covered in dirty slush, there exists a bowling alley that almost seems to boil; with a demanding need for human interaction, a place that gets by with the action of throwing open its doors and declaring Ten Pins To Paradise!

There are a lot of people in here. Good people, I’d wager. Rebels without causes who haven’t yet stepped out far enough to realize that they haven’t got anything to rebel against, managing to somehow spread their wings across the contradictory identities of the sloppy chaos of the lanes and the comparatively (surprisingly!) cosmopolitan built-in-bar. Smoke Free Bar/Smoke Filled Alley. It doesn’t make a lot of sense.

But then again, maybe it’s just me. Just me, the only fellow here on his lonesome.
I came here to be around people.

Earlier this evening, when the dear friend and I were out for a bite, she talked about how it had been when she had first returned to this state, state of being, state of mind; state of winds that cut thin, like slivers of paper that send stinging pain through your ears. We talked like we once had, in diners and dirty cars, either one or the other of us saying a bit too much while one or the other egged on. She talked about how hard it had been. Leaving things behind.

Leaving people, leaving places, leaving what felt right.
For a long while, she wasn’t happy.

She’s happy, now. Happy and settled (to a point; always, to a point), so much so that she had to get herself back over to work, something that I’d known about beforehand when setting this flashflood of vacation and schedule and technical difficulty and value and holiday underway. What I didn’t -- what I didn’t anticipate was the place.

So I’m in this place, watching people joyfully pantomime the lyrics of popular 90’s thrash tunes, being rowdily loud and sending balls plowing through pins with a collective skill set that documents serious effort. In this place, these people feel camaraderie run rich in the very air, warmth that overpowers the cold of the slushy outside ground, laughter mingling with the crescendo of steeeeeeeeeeerike!, lines of people coming along fine. They’re at home, in a way. I’m still lonely, and they’re at home.

Back in the earlier, it wasn’t so. I was there alongside my dear fweckled friend, feeling nothing but comfort in the waning sunlight of this place that I had never before seen. And then…it was less so. I had felt home before, at home, comfortable as a wayward lad, stretching my legs out into the frigid air with a sense of place that placed me as well, well as I could be. And then night fell. My friend was to work, and I was to sit. That feeling of home long gone. There I was, in a hotel room with a high-ceiling and little light to see by.
What could be done?

In the chill of the Saturday night, I bowled.

Five names on the board, me playing every single one. A couple of the meselfs manage to break 100. But I don’t talk, I didn’t speak. I pass the time, I didn’t extend an olive branch.
That night is done, and still, here it is. Place isn’t a home. Home is.

It just is.

It’s comfort, no matter where we are. It’s the touches that we add, the things that we make our own. The people that we grow to understand. When my friend was gone, she was here. She didn’t actually make it back, back to the point where the world made sense, until she settled herself down, worked out her workspace with people that she could grow to know, to care for. She built herself a home, covered with bricks, yes; but made of people.

That’s what we do.

I work a lot. Most of the people I know do. So what do we do with our time? How do we keep ourselves complacent, at peace, piece by piece by piece by piece? It should be obvious by now, so I won’t even bother saying it. But that’s it. We take the place that we spend so much of our time, and if only in the slightest manner, even if we don’t really recognize it, we mold it into something that is. Pictures and posters and people around.
Do it for…,” You should know the rest.

When I’ve been around the person that I came around to be around, I’ve felt at home in this place that isn’t much like home at all. When we painted walls and tore the heads off of mudbugs; when we talked freely and well, or sat silent and stared out the window.

It hasn’t been an eventful time. But when the moments counted, I felt at home.
And that, good people, will do.

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