Knowing in another hour, the lads will be there; rather than listening to the house moan, I’ve checked out.
A different location, different food, different people, different walls, different beds all changes the norm. That is what vacations do. Getting out into an unfamiliar territory increases awareness. Getting out of the familiar helps you appreciate the familiar.
The Holiday Inn
A close-to-home hotel, fairly clean and quiet, was to become my new home for a few days. Once in the room, I began to breathe again. A few bullets, television, turn down the bed and take assessment of my new surroundings. It is surprising that so much can be done in a single room. A desk, comfortable sofa, a bed (that in a suite is in another room) and a bath becomes home. Enough heat to walk around in my skivvies, hot water, and the refrigerator is full of bullets. Not being a weekend or a convention hotel, the walls are quiet. I don’t think about who may have slept (or whatever) in this bed the night before. It’s a hotel, so I don’t go there.
Being exhausted and fairly intoxicated, the bed was welcoming as midnight passed. Dreams seemed different and the ideas flooded my mind until before dawn, I had to get up and write them down. Perhaps this is the most creative time.
Eating with Strangers
Before I ventured out, I decided to take advantage of the morning breakfast. Off the lobby into an open area with a few tables neatly arranged, a few fellow wanderers enjoyed the morning news on flat screen TV’s telling a revolution story with precooked nourishment. Another cup of coffee, a buttered bagel and a green cheaply printed coupon given to the lone unhappy employee presented my breakfast. Some of the other passengers had left and the ones who remained openly prayed. Tonight this room will be a loud crowded bar, but I will only enjoy a free meal to fuel my adventure.
Going into the City
It uses to be the big adventure, going downtown. Taking the bus ride with other neighbors down the broad byway to the hub of the city. This was where people gathered to regulate commerce, trade money, create laws, and otherwise maintain order for its citizens.
I do not live in the core of the city, but am still within its boundaries. I enjoy the services provided by my taxes.
So I take the journey to a very different place than when I was young. The same concrete and stone and brick form the shapes, but the façade is different. Nothing really new appears although the inner being tries to find a way to be as exciting as the 40’s.
Waiting for the transportation, I stand a mere few feet from autos moving men and women to their various destinations, unaware I am observing them eating, talking on the cells, picking their nose; amusing me with the reality of a Friday morning.
Public transportation has always been my mode of travel, so I am aware of the normal passengers. Not as much chatter as some rides and a short wait until the bus listed to travel my intended route shows up.
Stepping out onto the empty downtown, I think of the girl in the library who I should write to, but she is another’s girlfriend. Old department stores transformed into a hotel or a skating ring or a performance art center, line up one-by-one with unimpressive boredom. Huge buildings filled with government workers who at the sound of the bell will scurry off to another place, leaving the downtown vacant to another time.
Looking like the “Midnight Cowboy” in the big city, I appreciate all the architecture and shapes of tall buildings, none holding a constant style, but a miss mass of construction thrown together.
Stopping into all the pawnshops to check for a possible treasure, I find a few but still the price is high. I could probably talk them down but it has to churn in the mind. The elderly owners do not remember selling me my first 4-string guitar.
Some of the music shops are not open yet. I forget music people stay up late and get up late. Looking through the glass did not reveal any treasures, so I walk on.
Without a schedule or deadline or particular path to follow, I wander up the boulevard noting the changes that have happened over the years. The missing glass in the circular tunnel of a red stone building that was a shrine, now a poor person’s job placement location shows little progress in the future of the area. Old baking factories have broken windows, the huge Coke bottle is gone, and the train office building that had the cafeteria with sliced roast beef is vacant. Cell phones, tax assistance, wigs, nails and gated empty buildings fill the area.
Searching back on side streets, a treasure is found with the location of a flag manufacturer. The owner agrees to assist me in the future in my banner accession. He confirms being the source for the “city” flag, which will become curtains.
Crossing the traveled four-lane highway avoiding white SUVs and a cute blond on a pink bike, I wander into the school bookstore. Scanning art supplies, which I have too much now, and books, which I have tried to thin down, I move into the clothing area. The night before I searched online for a new summer hat and did not see anything exciting, but I looked anyway. A tour presented me with an obstruction so I wandered around it and continued to touch the material and try and find a subtle appearance of the school where I graduated without being a cheer leading uniform. I found two hats and a foam can cozy while enjoying a conversation with an attractive red head. Even the young lady who took my money was pleasant and funny and the whole experience was enjoyable.
The ride back was packed and riding on a new bus was not as comfortable as the previous trip.
An extra stop at a shop that manufactures marble countertops, but offers kitchen design. A few request and a list of numbers and I’m back to my room.
A brief rest is needed before the next venture into the unknown.
Traffic moves beyond the window with a funeral procession, military troop carriers, police and fire vehicles with lights flashing responding to a metal over flesh conflict.
Across the parking lot is a strip mall turned into a variety of nondescript flat windows. One is a “art center” that I had heard was a local gallery for un-famous designers, painters, sculptures, potters, and a fine example of appreciation of the human endeavor. Some that I viewed were impressive, some were too familiar in style and subject, and some did not impress; but one artist surprised me. The name of the watercolorists was of an artist I had worked with for two decades. He had died several years ago, but here was his work, living on past his existence. An inspirational experiences yet a brain overload.
Back to reality
Tomorrow I will return home. The lumber stacked in the yard shows the lads had been working today. Without looking under the house, I slowly crepe inside with hope of little disaster. So far, so good was my thought as I checked the overall views of the floor, walls and ceilings. The latest contract was slid under the door but the latest payment has not arrived yet. The best part was the water had not frozen or leaked. Tomorrow I will see if it is still hot, but tonight it is crispy tacos, hot shower and rest.
Tomorrow never knows.