Hot Damn 5! The Dysfunctional Family Reunion Strikes Back (event)
Robbie and I were blowing through Indiana. I had found myself a highway hero (in a Lexus no less) and managed to go at a nice clip of about 85 MPH. As usual, I had meticulously planned the music that I would listen to on the trip. Since we were starting at 5:00 am., I figured that I would start out with the “Night” mix that I had made for Cindy, as I had found it to be excellent for driving in the dark. Then move onto the “Day” album, some Old 97s, then Decemberists, maybe a couple Bill Cosby CD's and on and on...
For some reason the best part of the drive is when I can see the 3 identical buildings of The Art Institute of Indianapolis. I noticed them the first time I drove to Columbus, as they formed such an odd tableau, 3 right triangles rising out of the north Indianapolis suburbs. Now I always have to make sure that I look at them when I drive past. When I see them, the stress that has built up during the drive through Chicago and Gary, and slowly begins dissipating during the drive through the corn and soybean fields is instantly replaced by a feeling of happiness and excitement that washes over me. It's like a little part of my brain doesn't realize what I'm doing until it sees those buildings and then everything comes rushing back. “Oh holy shit, I get to be with everyone again!”
So Robbie and I are talking. And I am utterly shocked that he has never watched The Wire and I am ranting about how it's the greatest TV show ever made, all while craning my neck to look out his window to see if the buildings are coming up. By this point I just have my iPod going on shuffle and suddenly a song I was totally unfamiliar with came on. I glance down at the display and saw “In the Aeroplane Ove...” scrolling across. It was something one of my friends at work had given me but I never listened to. I never give the song a second thought as I quickly turn my eyes to the south and see the buildings and a feeling of joy rushes into me.
What a beautiful face
I didn't listen.
These are my favorite moments of any nodermeet. A smaller group gathered together, just isolated enough from everyone else that it feels like we're the only people alive at that second. Just boozy enough to keep the conversation properly lubricated. The feeling of the fire burns my knees and the Wild Turkey burns my throat as I lean back and peek through the trees to look at the sky full of stars that feels like a special gift anytime I get a chance to see it. Jen asks me about my new girlfriend and I tell her how we're in goofy love with each other and she smiles big and I smile back. She asks me why I didn't bring her along. I say that I didn't want to feel responsible for another person's good time right now. I didn't want to have to share what this was yet. Jen laughs and tells me that she understands, but she wants to meet her anyway. Maybe sometime soon...
Jeff and Rosie have hooked up their iPods to a thrift store stereo and are making the playlists. Jeff begins to tell the story about the time in his life he was haunted by the number 37. For over a year wherever, he went and whatever he did, it seemed like any random number that appeared in his life turned out to be the number 37. It just followed him. We laugh and the conversation turns to Clerks and friends that we secretly had crushes on when we were younger and I poke at the fire and reach for the bottle and Rosie's Detroit techno slowly fades out and becomes...
What a curious life we have found here tonight
And it is lost in the night.
The meet is over. Robbie is asleep in the passenger seat next to me. This is the worst part of any trip, all the good stuff is over and all that I have left is the long drive back home. I slapped together the music for the drive back while the final cleanup was going on at the cabin and I just randomly grabbed a couple gigs of files off of my laptop and threw them onto an SD card that I could pop into my car stereo.
While I drive, I allow my mind to wander over the last several days, both to recapture the feelings of warm welcoming magic and to solidify the memories. I am thinking about the wedding and the darkness and the moths and Jared's tequila and laughing on the porch and my baseball bat and Jenchiladas and finally meeting Ashley and how Beth has grown and Dali's mustache and notes from Satan and the writings of TW Shannon and it is all whirling faster and faster like the standoff at the end of The Good, The Bad, and The Ugly which oh my god I talked about with Jeff because I had never seen Labyrinth and seven heads snapping around looking at me and we were drinking and I was squished in the booth next to Jen and everyone is giggling and hugging and I am passing under the blue arch which means I am leaving Ohio and the music changes and finally I hear it
But for now we are young
I hear it! I hear it! It has followed me this whole time and I finally listen to it.
That night at the fire I had mentioned how I always like to take something home from the gatherings, like a melted Heineken bottle or Noe the Foam Pig or countless other little items that are worth nothing but mean everything. But this time I had forgotten my yarmulke from the wedding and I think I lost my bottle of Hot Damn and I didn't have the heart to steal anything from the house.
But what I have found is something even better.
What a beautiful face