20.03.2010 - 21.03.2010
i rolled into town last night about one am. dirty, exhausted and homesick, i was disappointed that it was too late to call anyone or even go down to my favorite watering hole to see some familiar faces. too tired to write, i wound down and went to sleep, looking forward to seeing friends later on tonight. i awoke this morning only to find that the allergy attack that started in arkansas had developed into a full-blown head cold. miserable, i spent most of the day on the couch fighting just to stay conscious.
luckily, i was able to pull myself together enough to go to dinner with my mom, my big sister and her two adorable little girls. we had a pleasant enough time catching up at pietros; the food was great, the hot toddy was passable, the conversation was lively, if a bit interrogatory, but what do you expect when you’ve been gone for two months and keep hinting around that you might not sticking around?
the next few hours were spent back on the couch, trying to garner enough energy to go see my favorite bar flies at my favorite bar. over the holidays, monday had kind of become my regular night to hang out at the hideout, the local brewery that i’ve been coming to with varying levels of frequency for the past five years. with thoughts of euchre and friendly banter on the brain, i propelled myself up and out of the door.
what i found is that things change with surprising rapidity when you aren’t around. the usual bartender was no longer the usual bartender and the usual crowd was no longer the usual crowd. sure, some of the faces remained the same and i knew just about everyone who was there but the people i was expecting to see at that time on that night were absent, except for one, who spent most of his time wrapped up in his new project.
it wasn’t all bad, one of the regulars saw me heading down the road and pulled a u-turn in order to say hi to me and see how i was doing. i must say that was pretty great. i also got to see a few people that i hadn’t seen in quite some time which is always nice. somehow, though, it just wasn’t the same. mostly i spent the night feeling slightly out of place, a feeling that really slammed home when i was told that my picture was being removed from the top rail above the bar. apparently, a vote was taken in my absence and since i am no longer ‘around’ it was deemed that my photo no longer belongs in a place of honor.
it’s a silly thing, really, a project that took place over christmas break to fill an empty space. a friend of mine went around taking pictures of the ‘all-stars’ – those of us who have been around a while and/or have played a role in one way or another in helping the place become the place it is now. he then printed out 8 x 10s, had us sign them, framed the photos and put them above the back-bar where they were proudly on display for everyone to see. intending it as a half-joking space filler, we expected the owners to remove the stupid things and replace them with the decoration of their choosing. they ended up loving the idea and kept the photos right where we put them.
being that i’ve been around since the early days and used to work there, i was chosen to be a part of the project. others who have been around just as long as i have weren’t included because of availability or other issues, such as space or the short time frame in which the project was completed. it really shouldn’t be a big deal, especially considering i haven’t been in the state for the majority of this past year but when i came in tonight and saw that my picture was still up there, i was happy that i hadn’t been forgotten. which is why i took it personally when told that a group of people i don’t necessarily know had voted me out of the line up. it was as if they took a vote and decided i no longer belonged there, the last place in grand rapids that i thought i did.
i know i’m making a bigger deal out of this than it really is and i know it’s just a stupid little thing, but when you start to feel like your home isn’t, even stupid little things can have a big impact. i’ve spent the past two weeks trying to figure out how to adjust to being back here when i specifically left because of feeling the way that i do right now. the entire time that i’ve been planning my return, i’ve also been doing my damndest to convince myself that returning is for the best.
leaving austin was really hard for me, for i felt like i had stumbled upon somewhere i could belong better than i’ve ever belonged here. for a couple of years now, i haven’t been able to shake the feeling that i just don’t fit in this town any longer and that it’s time to move on. admittedly, my first attempt was not exactly the best experience of my life. does that mean i should stop trying, that i was wrong, that this is where i do belong? or does it mean that i need to be even more relentless in pursuing the things that fulfill me and make me a better person? do i give up and settle down or man up and buckle down? maybe it’s just time to put my nose to the grindstone, see what i’m really made of…