Thursday, November 10, 2011

The Goin' Nowhere Blues

"In the corner of the barroom/
Lives the ghost of Langston Hughes/
He's takin' notes and smokin' cigarettes/
Sippin slowly on his booze/
Got them goin' nowhere blues"
- Robert Earl Keen: Got the Goin' Nowhere Blues

This morning, I woke up, slightly hungover from one of those wish-I-was-still-in-college Wednesday nights at the old undergraduate bars, to a text from an old college friend. Essentially, the text said something along the lines of: 'been reading your blog, and feel the same way. My life is in need of a major change.' He said he skipped work today because he just couldn't do it. We texted back and forth for a little while, lamenting about the ruts we were in. I expressed how I missed college, when all of us (college buddies) were all together in one place -- not dispersed all over the country in D.C., N.Y.C., Cleveland, Chicago, and wherever else; I expressed how I missed college days when everything just seemed to make so much more sense.

Not long thereafter, I sat looking out my apartment window as snowflakes started to fall. It hit me that winter was here, and here for the long haul once again. The first snow conjured up images in my mind of months spent hibernating indoors and drowning beer after beer on uneventful weekend nights, of nights locked up inside warm pubs, of the slow monotony of yet another winter -- stuck in a prison of routine.

Maybe it was in part due to the alcohol wearing off, but the whole morning seemed to be overwrought with an oppressive weight, the weight of paralysis.

There used to be an old dirt road in my hometown, unpaved and hidden from suburbia underneath a shield of pine trees. I used to go there nights during the autumn of my senior year -- sometimes I just didn't want to go home. I was tired of my hometown, tired of being trapped in the strictures of high school life, tired of the same old same old. I remember thinking I might bust at the seams if something big didn't happen, soon.

I never thought I would feel that way again. But that text I received from my college buddy still is sitting with me hours later: "I'm ready for a change, in a major way".

Ironically, as I type this, I'm sipping the same beer I always drink, getting ready to go to the same bar me and buddy always go to. Might be a long winter.

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