Friday, September 16, 2011

This beer tastes different now.

One of the most exciting times I ever had was when I traveled alone to visit relatives in a different state. My whole life I’d somehow felt lost. I had always felt I needed something else, and I was angry because I couldn’t imagine or put into words what that was clearly, or freely. Given this one time opportunity, though, I ran with it. I planned and planned again, after that I made sure my plans were right. It was a dangerous game I now know, but it was lifesaving at the time. So much was at stake I thought, no one could find out. I was terrified and excited all in the same breath. The time came and finally I was able to leave one day early, and arrive before I was expected. That meant I had one night to myself. One night to do anything I could fit in my young imagination, as a single male in a new city with everything to experience.  I was a young 21. As opposed to the older 21. I had never traveled alone This was it. I could pee myself (not on purpose, just to be clear).
        I had the general idea of what I would do, in this new city, but nothing specific. I had lined up a couple of hotels and motels that I could afford, and all were near a couple of bars, some gay, some not. After that, all was up in the air. I had never experienced such freedom, such defiant and emboldening freedom as I did that night (nor have I needed to, thankfully). Almost in slow motion, I stood in the cold, hearing the gravel underneath my boots, outside of the the first nondescript bar before stepping inside. I remember walking on a cloud of cigarette smoke. I brushed closely up against several men. It was close enough to smell them wearing different scents, some artificial and very sharp others more pleasant. For sure all were very warm compared to the winds in the cold night outside, as I walked past them to the bar, and I ordered my beer. I caught a glimpse of myself illuminated by the blue neon in the mirror behind the bartender. I  didn’t recognize my face.When it registered, I almost winked at myself. Now a couple of years later, I understand I just planned to go get a couple of beers and head to sleep alone for sure, but, things could change and I was slowly becoming fine with that, finally. It would take a couple of years before I could do all this outside a bar in the daylight instead of neon lights, and without a beer, sad for sure, but a path I had to walk through. Now I see me reflected somewhere and it registers who it is, I do wink at myself sometimes, you know, sorta like an acknowledgement to the younger me we did good.It makes me quietly laugh. I like life, it was a little bit of hard work but we did it. It did change me to feel that much freedom available to me, though. I didn’t know that much world was available, as odd as that sounds.  I imagine it’s akin to when people go paragliding or jump from a plane for the first time, with a parachute of course.

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