Saturday, July 18, 2009

No. 46 & 47 & 48

Beer: No. 46 & 47, Heineken, No. 48, Miller High Life
Date: July 18th, 2009

Place: Cale and Casey's, Athens, AL

It's always strange to come home and to see that beer is sold.

The law changed while I was at college.

Limestone county was dry and had been for thousands of years, or maybe just since Prohibition, which was no doubt the brainchild of some knitting circle of Southern Baptist ladies (no offense to Southern Baptists, plenty of offense to knitting club founding members), and from growing up I remember when mom would make a beer run she would have to drive 8 miles to the next county over and bring back her brew.

Not that I was really concerned with it. I didn't drink until I'd gone away to college - which doesn't make me a saint but just makes me three years less a delinquent.

I sometimes wonder what it would be like to grow up in a place where there are bars, and people stay out past 9pm, and if your parents are missing well, maybe go check the pub.

I don't know if it would have changed much of anything, really. I think I'd still be trying to both run from and embrace my birthplace and having the option of mulling it over a pint matters to me now, wouldn't have then. And would have gotten Johnny Barowner in the slammer.

I was having it on the porch of Cale and Casey's townhouse. One of exactly sixteen such towhnhouses in Athens. In Athens, you are either wealthy enough to afford a house or poor enough to live in an apartment and the middle ground is composed of those being foreclosed upon (mom's house ten years ago) and those owning townhouses (all sixteen couples).

Daniel and Jennifer were there. Daniel is my best friend. He was my best man. If not for Daniel, I think I would not ever had seen a CD player, would never have been to Nashville, would never have moved away. I'm inspired by him and he's the only person that I don't think has just thrown in the towel who lives in Athens. He and Jennifer had done their three year stint in NYC and had a kid and needed something, somewhere, that could afford them a quality upbringing for Stella.

Matt and Ashley were too, and are in the transition of moving from Memphis to Atlanta. Matt is the only guy who I know who never studied, but did well enough of the time to impress the teachers and pass the tests - never in the middle of the class, never quite at the top. He's got his MBA and Law degree and I think is driven appear successful as much as I am. He puts on airs at times, but that swagger has served him well. I wasn't very close to him as we were in school, but as the years have moved on in age and we've gained weight and lost weight (and by weight I could also mean: hair, mortgages, friends) I begun to really appreciate who he is and the wife he chose for himself.

Cole. We were fast friends and were inseparable in middle school. We dressed alike, both tried to rebel by wearing shirts of rock bands (Green Day, Pearl Jam), dated girls who were best friends so we could always be together. I always loved going to his house and his house had Tommy Hilfiger accessories and bowls of potpourri and was three stories and was equally a place we praised and cursed, we got in trouble (pot, beer), we grew. Then one day we just stopped. I don't really know why or how. Someplace around 9th grade the whole deal changed. At this point we see each other once a year or once every eighteen months. I still feel like he's a stranger - albeit one who looks familiar, but whom I can't place in the present. I miss him often.

There was a smattering of others around; Cale and his girlfriend, Britt and his wife, Casey asleep getting ready for a 6am clock in at the factory (bank).

Admittedly I'm totally critical of those who stay here or who move back because I simply have no idea of what family ties are, can't imagine never leaving, don't want to raise a family here. What success I've had in life I don't I attribute to Athens except in a very perverse way: by growing in me such a strong desire to leave that I've made what I have of myself.

But each time, as I dissolve into the cotton fields and we all accept our roles and the same inside jokes from fifteen years ago play out in real time and in the past I think that I can't escape this, this that I am, and for two or three days I accept that.

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