Thursday, September 1, 2011

Ambiance and BB Dongs

"I met [the Beauty] in this room," replied the Brewer. I have an annual friendship of sorts with the Brewer and his wife. It has evolved from our treks to my husband's hometown over the years to a bar that draws us uptown. In the beginning the bar was a rundown bar near the university that was fairly quiet and yet had ambiance. My husband says, "It was always a graduate bar." When you are a grown up and you go to college towns, it is those graduate bars that seem more attractive- not too many people, varying ages present, and a quiet hum versus the "boom, boom, boom" of the hipster youth bars packed bum to boob. At some point we began to fear that the bar would not be open on our next visit, but some how it always was. Eventually it got new life, the Brewer. Maybe it was because we always went to the same bar on our trips home, but it was at this bar that I had an epiphany.

On the particular night of my epiphany, my husband and I walked uptown for a brew. Though it is his hometown he rarely encounters any old friends unless it is Thanksgiving or Christmas so we were just out for a brew and a chat. Our favorite bar was perking along as the new brewer had begun to draw in more customers which meant a bit more smoke and a band. I don't recollect being enamored of the band as we went outside to the patio. Sitting at our table you could sip a beer, admire the night sky, have a conversation, and note a new fragrance in the air. I was a bit shocked to realize it was likely an illegal substance. I commented to my husband, "I can't believe anyone would do that in a public place!" He replied, "This is Athens." My response, "I could live here." I loved the idea that there was a place where at least some people didn't worry about every little thing ad nauseam- control pollution slash fill in the blank not people's lives is more my sentiment. This was the moment that planted the seed for our return. A year or two after I finally met the Brewer. I confessed that the bar was a particularly special place to me and that I liked what he was doing with the beer. His response, said with a faraway twinkle in his eye, "I met [the Beauty] in this room." It got to the heart of how place and person intermingle and create a one of a kind ambiance that infuses memory, the kind you can almost palpate.

Places are connected to people for me- in Pace it was the neighborhood boys; in Spain it was my various high school friends; in Maryland it was the exchange students; in college it was Debbie; in nursing school it was catching up with old friends from Rota and then meeting my husband; in Seattle it was the other resident's wives and my husband's friend from kindergarten; in Bahrain it was Afeef and the other expats; in Washington it was several friends and my babies; and in Japan it is the mamas. I wonder how my children will connect back to Japan.

Upon our return from the States, the Moose asked if his friend could come over to play. I emailed the mama and arrangements were made. I wondered at how it would go as the Moose often complains, "he is too rough on me." However, I have come to understand that this means that his friend gets him, the Moose, riled up as the Moose frequently looses his temper when one does not play in the manner he specifies- it is not about physical anguish but mental. "Ooh, don't take that off!" and "Argh! You have to keep it together!" were common refrains today.

I had a good chuckle when the friend, mind you these boys are both six years old, pulled out a realistic handgun and asked through the Moose's translation if it was ok to shoot "bb dongs" in the house. "Not in the house, someone or something can get hurt. You can go outside with it if you like," The Moose asked if they could play with it if there were "no bullets." "Sure," I said. And then he fired off a bb dong. He forgot it was loaded. That night he asked if the Friend could come back tomorrow.