What do I want, more than anything, after this weekend? To strap my current city of residence into a colossal harness and lift it on the world’s largest crane, swing it across the U.S., dangling precariously from the long, metal arm and, at the proper moment, send it plunging back down to Earth, right on top of Raleigh, North Carolina.
This formerly developmentally challenged city finally seems to be working out its growing pains and working its way toward healthy urbanization. But not fast enough. It’s climate is impeccable, it’s location (between a rock and beach place) ideal. But Raleigh itself is missing, as of yet, some of the things I’ve grown to love about where I currently live. (A word to anyone who bashes our mid-size, Midwestern ville – just try relocating and tell me how many better offerings you find.)
Anyway, because the feasibility of this is akin to that of President Bush learning the proper pronunciation of nu-cle-ar, I will have to, instead, consider the possibility of an eventual relocation with the hope that Raleigh will grow up quickly and properly.
But the purpose of this visit was not to explore a future place to call home. No – we had another mission. Several, actually:
1) Visit (one of) J’s hometown. A beautiful little college town – and we got to have lunch at the Restaurant X, where J used to wait tables. The couple who own it are from the UK (one British, one Irish), and were ridiculously friendly. The food was to die for, and I’m not exaggerating (but maybe I was starving).
2) Meet up with K: J’s first “girlfriend” and LONGtime friend. She’s a musician and philosopher, so you can imagine having a beer with this girl was pretty interesting. That, and the two of us share some frighteningly similar man issues, so J may have actually felt left out at this point. After an hour or so, we suddenly realize it’s getting late. K has a concert to go to down the street, and my Evil Twin is up for dinner across the street. We go to pay our tabs, and I’m standing there, swear-to-god minding my own business when a bar brawl breaks out and some guy turns around and smashes a beer bottle over my head. Or that’s the first thing I imagine anyway, when I simultaneously hear and feel a blow directly to the top of my head. Sadly, what really happened is not nearly as cool. Some old lady leaning on the bar nudged a pool cue out of the rack with her elbow, and it tipped over and landed directly on top of me. Still hurt like a mother f@#$er though. Anyway, off to….
3) Meet Evil Twin and Bro-in-law: at the restaurant where J’s cousin works. I’m blaming the blow to the head on my behavior over dinner. I’d had maybe a drink and a half when my sister rolled up, but I was feeling (and acting) bottle-of-wine loopy. A great dinner, but I think we all agreed the “small plates” left us unsatisfied, so we….
4) Meet Back Up With K at Beer Garden-Type Place: Here we pack in another couple rounds as the rain really starts to come down. I order a hard cider and am pleasantly surprised to be handed an entire liter bottle of the stuff with a couple glasses. So everyone has cider and whatever else, we drink and are generally merry. ‘Nough said. No pool cues and/or bar brawls.
5) See Amanda Palmer play solo: After spending Saturday relaxing and exploring Raleigh a little, it’s time to head downtown to the Lincoln Theater. When we arrive, a line has formed down the street made up of every kid that ever got made fun of (or is currently sill getting made fun of) in school, every over-dramatic theater geek (in costume, although what this costume is no one really knows), and many a Doll Wannabe with out-of-contol, colored hair and striped stockings. And there’s us: jeans, cotton shirts, sweaters, jackets. Dude – we love the Dolls, too, but even Amanda Palmer doesn’t dress like Amanda Palmer when she’s not performing. There are two openers. The first is a couple of Canadian girls called Vermillion Lies who are, admittedly, too precious for my taste and trying a little too hard to drop jaws. The next band, Butchers and Builders, are musically much more interesting, but I can’t help wishing to hear more of the band and less of the singer. Personal preference. He can’t carry the power of the musicians behind him. Finally, Amanda takes the stage in a long, drawn-out theatrical intro with the voice of Neil Gaiman (NEIL!) narrating, strangely enough. This is indicative of the entire show, as Amanda has hired a troupe of bizarre and not entirely attractive mimes to act out many of the songs. (This proves counterproductive, in that they make us laugh where we are supposed to be crying) The one song in which their presence was effective (and fun) was the finale, in which Amanda rises from the dead and lip-syncs to Rihanna’s “Umbrella.” Otherwise, I generally ached for the dolls more focused integrity. I longed for the tension they bring to the stage and release incrementally and oh-so-satisfyingly for the audience. Sigh. We left during the encore (Butchers came back onstage to perform Bon Jovi’s “Living on a Prayer” with Amanda, and with that we were out the back door).
We head up the street after the show for one more drink, and it’s at my urging that we leave it at one. I’m exhausted and not feeling so hot (I’d gotten carsick earlier and still having trouble shaking it). Grudgingly, everyone agrees and we pile in the car to head home. And, by god, there is a MASSIVE 4-way checkpoint set up on the highway home. We pass through with flying colors, but see plenty who aren’t so lucky, and thank our stars (and my weeniness) that we called it a night when we did.
6) Force ourselves to go home: This may have been the most difficult mission of all. North Carolina, after a minor cold front, is crisp and sunny, and we’ve been informed that it is frigid and snowing back home. We do a damn fine job procrastinating, stop in for lunch around 3pm at a place called Mellow Mushroom (you can imagine the drug references on this menu), and finally, FINALLY, have admit defeat and get back on the road. We don’t arrive home until 2am. Getting up for work is, as expected, painful. We immediately begin researching the possibility of relocation.
On that note – I should mention my two year limit. And the fact that I have just surpassed it. I have an extremely hard time staying put for more than two years. At some point, I must change apartments, jobs, cities, something, ANYTHING. And while I did just start a new job, I’ve been in Columbus for two years and two months. And it physically hurts me. This must stop eventually, I know. Bu tI blame it entirely on my military brat upbringing. Not only am I accustomed to moves I NEED them to feel right. Again, sigh.
In the meantime, the weekend trips help satiate this desire and help me bide my time until a more permanent trip.
J and I also used the 8-hour drive home to come up with and/or elaborate upon at least five different ventures, including, but not limited to, producing a Broadway musical, making a movie, writing the next great American novel and opening a restaurant or coffee shop. The winter ahead may be long and incapacitating, but being forced indoors for extended periods of time might be good for us. We have a lot of work to do;)