(Photo by: Han Vance)
I wanted to get my haircut. And it was time to shut up and pay up. An online conversation about how UGA had clearly passed Tech in strength of basketball programs, led to a challenge of one-on-one for money, which led to the formation of a league team. Magazine writer Charles Bethea and I had made it happen – the team would happen. Time to pay and sign up. And we were set to meet at the coffeehouse in the Virginia-Highlands. First at noon, then he postponed to 12:30, so I walked down Ponce to the salon and went high and tight. I texted back postponing to 1:00, and he said he had to leave for Athens by 1:45, and I said, “Can I go?” Next stop was the Classic City, home to a dense and cute downtown, thriving local music scene and the nation’s oldest state chartered university. Stopped first in my stepbro’s restaurant, 5 Star Day Cafe’ – left my number to have him call me. Took Charles to the GA Bar, out and through the alley that was once a wild nightspot of its own, through the back entrance to the Road House, where we had a beer as I recounted glories past to him. Stepbro called. Busy but he hooked us at the restaurant, so we walked there and met Charles’ girlfriend – a Phd candidate at UGA – for meats, starches, veggies and refreshing Cheerwine. Saw the art, heard the music – this is Rockville – and told them the story of my book about California in the most detail I’d told it in some time. We split up, and I skipped the baseball game and went to Allgood for a beer – had to support my friend Damon, the owner of many local watering holes. Walked the lower, more hipster part of downtown next. Then I headed down Pulaski to my old neighborhood. Hung with a neighbor on his porches, in his living room amongst great art. Other old neighbor stopped by, and I tried to ignore his stutter like I always do when I see him and just give love. It can be hard for a Speech Comm grad not to cling to and overanalyze language and speech a bit too much. Stepbro called and then showed up, and we went to his place. Drank the magical green fairy for the first time ever and spoke of literature and marriage and art and sex and life. Drank more and felt moved. Consoled his wife on some personal issues she’s been dealing with, and she cried and then felt good. All three of us are writers, so we talked how writers talk when they are amongst themselves, which is always in a way, but more so then. Slept and woke up admiring the dancing new sunlight. Had coffee and visited with my step-niece and step-nephew. Had pancakes and eggs and got a ride back downtown. Asked my stepbro to drive up Chase and saw the old party house there and reflected aloud. Went to ERC where I once worked, for a carrot cake. Walked onto campus and my heart just leapt with joy just to have gone to school at such a place. North campus aglow. Visited the folks at the Speech Comm school and asked to contribute some encouraging words to students. Down, down, down that drained river valley to that big ol’ football palace and the Tate Student Center, where I worked for three-and-a-half years. Met the new folks there. Climbed the back exit and loved on the stadium some more. Saw an O-lineman in regalia and said, “Go Dawgs.” Walked up Lumpkin and saw a rehabbing linebacker in full regalia on crutches and gave him a thumbs up, which was cordially returned with a smiling nod. Then cut back up into the Founders’ Garden where I wrote this. Nice work boys, with the whole public college thing. Now that…was a good idea.