Straight up, let me be a little honest with you.
I moved recently, to a great location in downtown Fort Wayne. My apartment is small, but I’m just me. It’s near more people than I could ever hope to be near. People I love. Nonetheless, depression is a crafty monster, and he creeps in just when you feel most safe. To say that I’ve been completely balanced lately would be a gross lie, and going into this post I think it’s important that you know that that’s where I am.
Recently, my friend and neighbor, Dirk, and I have have taken to going to The Green Frog Inn. We go because Dirk’s coworker is the new bartender. We went a couple of weeks ago on a Friday to find this beautiful kaleidoscope of people. Honestly none of it made any sense. Warned by our friend that the man sitting next to me was a very colorful character we stayed for a while. When we arrived there around 9:15 the colorful barfly, Phil, was already pretty drunk. But what I did get from Phil, outside of probably an hour of solid sexual harassment, was a series of incredible stories. I take them with a grain of margarita salt, but even if they’re all completely fabricated they were incredible. I offer you this one, which I’ll do my best to clean up without losing some of the integrity of Phil as a person. Picture Phil, balding, hunched over a beer, his voice Clint Eastwood gravely and slurred. His body worn from digging holes for a living. “You thought Jimmy Hoffa disappeared…”
“My niece Kristen was dating this black bastard, who got her real methed up. (it’s important that you understand he meant Methed up. Not messed up). And my mom had just died and we were all at the funeral. And that bastard pulls up in MY niece’s car and yells to her right there at my mom’s funeral ‘Bitch! Git in the car!’ And I started to walk over to him, and Kristen tried to stop me and said ‘Uncle Phil no. It’s fine.'”
And Phil put his hand on my shoulder and said “I got this.”
“No Uncle Phil, please.”
And again he touches my shoulder and says “I got this.”
“And I walked right up to the passenger side of MY NIECE’S CAR, and I grabbed him by the throat with one hand, with this hand right here” he said as he held his hand in front of my face.
“I pulled him outta that car and threw him on the hood. I got right up in his face and he just smiled. And I said ‘You’re gonna disappear. We’re never gonna see you again. You’re never going to contact her again.’ And he just smiled. And I stared him down and said ‘You’re gonna disappear. Or I’m gonna make you disappear.’ And he left that funeral. On foot. I took two weeks off of work to DT that girl. To clean her up. He methed her up, and I methed her down.”
How is that story anything less than incredible? Underneath that surly, pervy man is a man who only had stories about how carefully he watched over his family. And also about all of the holes he digs. “If you thought Jimmy Hoffa disappeared…”
The second story I heard this week is more of a series of events. I get a massage every once in a while from a woman named Jessica, who leaves me looking like I’m abused, covered in bruises. Some days she’s chatty, some days she’s not. She’s about 5’3″ and boxy, but manages to put out more force in her fingers than a stiletto at a muddy outdoor wedding. I couldn’t tell you what caused her to start talking about it, other than perhaps a need to say the things she said.
Jessica used to be an analytic chemist. She was married before she turned 26. I know that second part because when I said I was 26 she sighed “26. That was a good year. Married. Lucratively employed. Full of hope.” What’s more is she said THAT almost an hour into our conversation. Jessica stopped being an analytic chemist after she got divorced, but not right after. First she got engaged again. But then her fiancee and two family members died all within the span of two months. She got dismally depressed and quit her job. She took a factory job to make ends meet, and one day she got a call from an employment agency explaining that they would essentially pay for her to go back to school. Already holding a bachelor’s she knew exactly what she wanted to do. What she always wanted to do. In the 80s Jessica wanted to study massage therapy, but said that every time she mentioned everyone thought she wanted to be a prostitute. So she became a chemist, which is a hilarious jump. When she told the employment agency that’s what she wanted to do they said they’d allow it since all of her gen-eds would transfer, but they wouldn’t let someone who had never been to school do it. So last May she graduated and started her new career. Helping her raise her 7-year-old son.
It’s a little crushing, but over the course of however long I get to see Jessica, I hope that something beautiful comes of it for her. Not because of me, but because of whatever it is God has planned.
In my own withering state, I’m preparing this week for some much needed relief. Today through Wednesday I’m doing some serious marathon working at the store, but it will all be worth it because Thursday morning I board that train and head to Chicago. This is wonderful for many reasons. One, because I’m going to Chicago Comic and Entertainment Expo, or C2E2, where I’ll get to geek out for three solid days. Meeting Peter Davison, Felicia Day, Amber Benson, and anyone else I’m fortunate enough to see. On top of getting go to some panels I’m pretty excited about.
More than that though, I’m really looking forward to the beauty of getting to be around so many people who know me in ways new people in my life have yet to understand, or have yet to be allowed to know. A Headset reunion is planned for Friday, which is beyond satisfying. It’s been since Patrick and Bekah’s wedding since we were all even together. I haven’t even met Deanna’s husband. So I’m thrilled.
I’ve been looking back at some college memories that really shaped my life, events, misfortunes, moments, words, people. What I haven’t yet been able to replicate in my life since probably sophomore year of college, with the exception of a brief few months in my last stay in Huntington, is this unmatchable group of friends. As a whole we were actually pretty terrible. We did stupid things to each other and a lot of us walked away from that year pretty hurt, but somewhere in my head all I can seem to focus on is, and this is how truly selfish I am, how funny I felt in those times. How complete as me I felt. How I felt like my soul was in place and hinged and full. Not entirely because of the people, because as I said, some of that was soul sucking too.
But some of the best times in my head took me to a place where I finally felt like I was a part of something important, even though it really wasn’t anything at all. It was just people living life together, which I suppose is pretty important.
Many of the people I’m seeing this weekend were a part of that, the good parts. The constant sisterhood. This surrounding of hilarious women, who simultaneously lived to pursue Christ. Something my life has really been lacking in. In a lot of ways. In the surrounding of hilarious women, but also women pursuing Christ. I guess because it’s growing cold here in my head, and I don’t want it to spread to my heart.
It wasn’t perfect, but some days it did feel a lot like this. Bliss.
It wasn’t the same, but it wasn’t that different.
I think spring time makes me nostalgic in sort of sickening way.
I might need theatre in a way I didn’t realize before.