For some reason, last night I decided I wanted to go on an adventure. Alone.
I don’t usually fly solo. I have two nights a week without Elise and tend to spend them with close friends, doing this together. It’s not often that I hang out with people who are out of that small little circle, and like I said, for some reason, on a whim, I decided to go out alone and seek some friends and adventure away from my normal routine. (Wow, just saying that makes me realize how boring my life is.)
A few people from New London were going to Westerly, Rhode Island to see a friend of ours, Thor (Rob) Jensen play some solo music at a cool little bar called Perks & Corks. Having nothing else to do, and wanting some adventure, I decided to drive down there.
Now, keep in mind, I’ve been to Westerly on many, many occasions, but now that I look back on all of those occasions I realized that I have never actually been the one to do the driving there, and certainly not on my own. It’s twenty miles from home, and somehow I took a wrong turn somewhere and got lost, like REALLY lost in the pouring rain for a half an hour. It was frustrating at first, but then, after I had passed through the same intersection for the third time and still hadn’t managed to find the right fork in those roads, I just started laughing at myself. I kept driving. I kept rocking out to my tunes and no one told me to change the music or turn it down. I had found adventure.
The bar was packed. I was standing there, waiting to order my first drink, when I saw a familiar face walking through the crowd. It was an old friend of mine who I had worked with at IHOP years ago.
“ANDY?” I practically screamed at him, and he looked up at me and then looked down.
“No, NO!” he said.
There was a split second when I thought he was really going to keep walking and pretend he didn’t know me. He was always sort of shady for no reason (which, later in the night, he denied), but he is still exactly the same. I haven’t seen him in probably six years, but he looks like he hasn’t aged a minute. And he certainly doesn’t ACT like he’s aged a minute.
I wanted to take a picture of us together, but he wouldn’t let me, so let me describe Andy. He’s about six feet tall, maybe 300 pounds, LOUD, erratic and unpredictable, and black as night. I mean, really. I met him when I was nineteen, and he, thirty-one at the time, was the first black friend I’d ever made in my life. I grew up in a small country town and our minority population was about 1-2%, I’m not even kidding. The first black students we had in my class arrived in eighth grade, they were twins, and I didn’t have classes with either of them, and high school was the same. I was sheltered and didn’t know what I was getting into when I took a third shift waitressing job at IHOP, but let me tell you, it changed my life, and for four years, Andy was there to see me through my best and my worst of those times, and I always cherished his friendship.
But then, alas, IHOP closed. We got new jobs and we drifted apart and away, and here we are, years later, and I realized that Andy and I had known each other almost exactly ten years. Ten years, and I’ve changed, and he hasn’t, and part of me wanted to pull myself closer to him and that life we shared on those long IHOP nights, and part of me wanted to run even faster and farther away. I’m still torn over where I am going and what I am doing with myself and who the hell I am under this skin I’m dragging around. I’m still shocked every day that growing up is THIS hard.
I left the bar when I was still having a good time – that’s something I’ve heard about other people doing. I’m usually the type to stay and see the often bitter ends of things, but I had such a great time catching up with Andy, such a great time with my beers and Thor’s music and the cozy atmosphere, I said goodbye while I was still floating on it – and then I got lost again. Seriously. I had to take Route 1 all the way back to Mystic, and as I was crusing down the highway finally, over the bridge that would take me home, I decided to do something else that I have never done before.
I sped into New London, parallel parked quite haphazardly, and sprinted into the Oasis.
“DID I MISS LAST CALL?”
I didn’t. I had the sweet bartender concoct me a delicious surprise, and I spent the rest of the night talking with one of my favorite new friends from the Great Campaign Trail of ’11, Sean. I’ve actually known him for years, but we never really talked or got to know each other. He’s sort of like a breath of fresh air in life, as corny as that may sound. He makes me laugh until my stomach hurts and feeds me Cheetos when I’m drunk, so obviously he’s a friend for life now.
So I’ve done it, by the way. I’ve offically kicked NaBloPoMo ass, and I’ve blogged every day for a month. That means I get to cross off the second item of my 30 Before 30 list, and also check off a notch on my Life List, as I’ve visted another state since writing it. Which is kind of a joke, really, but for those who don’t live around here, Westerly, RI is such a close little city, it really feels like a part of Connecticut. But whatever. It’s offical. I win at NaBloPoMo.