Driving through the Short North just always makes me broody for my friend Keith. Keith and I grew up in cow town together and traversed the Appalachian landscape as teenagers barely surviving.
The winter makes me think of all of the Christmas breaks spent back there with him during our college years. We were much freer then as he had come out and I was desperate to be myself.
We would drink heavily atthe only real pub in town. There are other bars, but they are places that hold their own urban legends of prostitution, racism, and seediness. I didn't know anyone who went to those other bars. I only knew that everyone went to ----.
The place that held such mystery to me until I started going in regularly and found that people when intoxicated, including myself, could be very disappointing and ignorant.
But some of the best times with Keith were when we would just drive around and listen to the best music. We would park our crappy cars somewhere in the woods and talk and laugh our asses off and forget who we were and where it was that we were from.
I can't get through a Thanksgiving without thinking about the time we smoked up and sat somewhere on my parents land until we were so hungry that we had to go back to my house to eat. We walked into my house and my mom was standing there in the small kitchen clutching her chest. She had on a Laura Ashleyesque nightgown and her face was bright red with the huff of asthma. She looked so relieved that we walked in, waving frantically to help her. My father was at work and she couldn't find her asthma inhaler. Keith held her by the elbow and sat her down at the kitchen table and it was all that we could do to hold back the insanity. There was to be no emergency when one is stoned. She motioned us back outside and said the inhaler may be in her car trunk. She said it was in her purse.
This was during the time that my mother was a career mother with a hot little insurance agent job, complete with car phone that was the size of a football and had it's own carrying suitcase. It was also during the time that my mother(god bless her because she is a fashion plate now) but then- oh then- she matched her handbag to her outfit nearly every day.
That night is so frozen in my memory.
Keith and I opening the trunk of my mother's car that has always had personalized vanity plates, and finding a sea of pocketbooks.
Like it could be a scene in a movie.
It was that crazy.
We searched through at least forty patent leather purple purses, yellow canvas satchels, white clutches, and on and on -and my mother is dying in the kitchen and we are in the driveway nearly in tears from the frenzied laughing of the absurdity of our lives.
Keith keeps me from climbing in the trunk and giving up, he slaps me with an orange Dooney and Burke and we find it. It was in a granny bag, brown and boxy, and we ran it inside to her and she was fine moments later and then it was like it always was.
She turned lovely to us- thanked us and made us food and we sat there with magenta eyes and sore stomachs from laughing and she just pressed her beautiful hands down her nightgown and we walked back outside with a one hitter and took back to the life we knew.
But in that frosty November night we both knew it had been heavy.
And we also thought it was a flashing foreshadowing to our adulthood. We were so weird that we people never assumed we were stoned. Just us.
In our crappy car on the gravel road by my house, we pressed the memorex tape back into the pioneer stereo and looked at each other only moments before the snow started falling so hard on the countryside.
We knew that someday years and years later we would think about this night and perhaps all the others and know that even when you are very young and full of shit and there is nothing to define you except the things you don't want- we knew we had made a good choice in walking through the world tethered.
I don't see Keith enough in my grown up life. But he knows I love him. He knows it and when he rolls on the downtown pavement and Jane's addiction randomly comes from the radio and he opens his mouth and all of the years fall off his tongue
Have you seen my wig around?
I feel naked without it
and he knows it like I know it and
all of the misfits of the world's ears burn