27 February 2012

Quarter Of A Century

I just celebrated my 26th birthday with the best of friends and the love of my life. Robin baked me "Despicable Me" cupcakes, Lairen made buffalo meatloaf cupcakes with mashed potato frosting and bacon sprinkles. Then, the gang took me out to The B Side Tavern where I proceeded to black out and perform a striptease for Robin and do the chicken dance with Michull for far too long. All in all, it was one of the best birthdays I can ever remember having.

Without waxing too existential here, I've finally crossed the threshold of a quarter of a century. I am officially twenty-six years old. Stories of my exploits are quickly becoming a decade old. I don't feel bogged down by the years that have passed, but it's still interesting to stop and take stock in the past for a second.

I've always been intrigued by the power of time travel that music intrinsically contains. I've touched on this before, and I'd like to elaborate on it a bit more. I remember where I was and who I was with the first time I ever heard Leatherface. That moment will be forever with me. It opened my whole world up. I swear allengiance more fiercely to The Boat than I do almost any other band. Every time I listen to "Hoodlum", I am taken back to that moment.

This morning while driving to work, I was listening to "You Are Freaking Me Out" by the almighty Samiam. I forget the exact moment I first heard the album, but I do remember I was 18 years old. Back then, I was still living in Fort Wayne, desperate to get out of town any chance I could. I began dating a girl that lived in Milwaukee, Wisconsin. I took monthly bus trips on the Greyhound to see her. We eventually broke up, and I moved onto one of her friends that she had introduced me to. The Greyhound trips were something I was more reluctant to give up than the comfort of a girl. I was bummed out when I eventually broke up with the last Milwaukee girl, because it meant the end of my Greyhound trips.

For those several months, I constantly craved the road. Every day or week not spent in transit made me anxious. Work just passed the time, and I deprived myself of sleep in order to make as much time available for my friends. I wanted to be on the move always. I soaked myself in coffee and ink in my downtime from the road. I yearned to be gone for good, spending my whole life sleeping on floors of Greyhound stations and getting my food from a cafeteria line.

I exclusively took the Greyhound to Milwaukee via Chicago. Samiam became one of my staples to the travel. I had one backpack crammed with journals, a portable CD player and a few shirts. It doubled as a pillow when I was laid over in the Chicago station and had to sleep on the floor. Although the memories of the girls I dated in that city have faded significantly over the years, my memory of the Greyhound trips and the city itself are still beacons of light.

I used to be able to get a round-trip ticket on the bus for about $80 if I purchased it at least a week in advance. The two or three hour layover in Chicago never bothered me much, because even though I was sleeping on the floor, I was still on the move. I was hungry for travel. I had no obligations, no restrictions. I was on my own time. Seeing the Milwaukee skyline as the glowing, silver bus roared into the city at one or two in the morning is still one of the prettiest sights I've ever seen. Listening to Samiam as I stirred awake (or tried to fall asleep sitting up) complemented the weariness, the happy and content kind of a soul in transit.

I'll never forget the Milwaukee Greyhound station, the warmth of the city regardless of season. To me, it resembles Portland quite a bit, but it has the sprawling coziness of familiar Midwest cities. I long for the day to be able to show Robin the city for the first time.

Although those glory days of my youth are long gone, I still carry the memories of those times around with me proudly. It's not anachronistic to do so because it's incredibly important to always remember where you come from. I can't imagine what life would be like now if I had moved there like I had planned when I was 19.

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