Wednesday, May 16, 2007

quiescent like fudgebars

Cle Elum, WAIf I lay here
If I just lay here
Would you lie with me and just forget the world?

-- Snow Patrol, "Chasing Cars"

Before I get into the description of yesterday, which was by no means stupid at all, I have a stupidity in advertising to point out. First one: There's an ad for a fast food restaurant where the guy gets on a plane, gets a middle seat, pulls out his bag of burger, and his day gets better when women sit at either side of him. How the hell did he get outside food on the airplane?! I had a second commercial stupidity to mention but it's slipping my mind right now. [24 hours later] Okay, I remembered it. There's a radio ad locally for an Indian casino where the wife asks, "Do you remember what fun is?" and the husband says "Sure, going to the Tamucktulaquilwash Casino." Never mind where the ad goes after that, what the woman should have replied is "oh my gawd, you really *don't* remember what fun is, do you?"

Yesterday I drove to Cle Elum, which is not the end of the world but the gas prices there will make one want to take up bicycling, to meet up with my old friend Karen for a second round of Who The Hell Are We? I came prepared this time; days prior I sat down and tried to figure out how to approach this meeting. Always trying to learn from getting my hand burned by putting it on the stove, I decided that I would do more listening than talking, keep my inner dialog at a minimum, bring very little in the way of conversational gambits beside one question and two anecdotes which I had said "we'll discuss that in person" about to avoid trying to write them (they were innocuous but lengthy), and do my best to gather more information about this adult. I distilled that meeting number one was the Dispelling Old Myths About Karen phase, so meeting two would have to be the Learning Who She Really Is phase. To that end, I met my goal -- I stuck to my plan, I kept my head silent, I took things in as she was putting them out (which admittedly put her on the spot, she had to initiate most of the conversations and I was suspiciously silent otherwise). We started out in downtown Cle Elum, walking into antique stores and photographing old advertising art on the sides of buildings. Then we drove into the next town, Roslyn, to visit the cemetary.

Roslyn, as the dedicated fans of the TV show Northern Exposure may know, is an old coal mining town which in some ways resembles the fictional Alaskan village of Cicely. It's an oasis, as the world-famous mural says. The cemetary is an amazing place because it's divided up into over a dozen sections based on ethnicity and lodge associations... just strolling through you may find that you're no longer in the Knights of Pythias and have entered the Redmen (black miners) area, or have crossed out of the Italian section through the Croatian section into the Druids. We spent a lot of time wandering around the graveyard, remembering the forgotten and forgetting what we remembered. There was also a bunch of driving around the neighborhoods looking for houses with icicle lights (and I got a buttload of 'em). Her joke was that a foundation under a Roslyn house is a selling point, since not all of them have one, and no matter how decrepit a house looks someone is probably living in it. My joke has long been that there's a city ordinance against housepaint. For lunch we went to the Old Station #3 in Ronald, another short hike up the road. The place at one time was famous for its hat collection; as an old firehouse turned tavern, people would come in and hang their hats up and leave them there, and eventually people would just bring hats as their "I was here" thing. About a year ago there was a fire (how ironic, a fire station burning down) and they rebuilt but in a more modern, lodge-like floor plan. I can't say that the original charm remains, and there are only a dozen hats stapled to the ceiling. What people leave now with their names are dollar bills, taped to the wall or light fixtures, similar to the theme that The Soup Cellar in Leavenworth uses to the hilt. Neither one of us are the appetite of a horse variety people anymore, sigh, and we commented on how at one time we could have finished everything on our plates but now, no. We went back to Cle Elum and went to this mansion turned museum, which is only open on weekends so we sat on the front porch for an hour or two just talking away.Roslyn, WA

There was one moment, and only one, that my resolve to try to learn how to be her friend -- something I've never done, I've always seen her as more even when she wasn't and was annoyed at that fact -- nearly buckled. It wasn't at our goodbye hug, which would seem to be a most perfect time to say or do something off the script. No, it was half a minute later. We were talking about what she was off to do, since the original thought from the last meeting was that I'd come to her house to have dinner and meet her 16 year old son (I met her 14 year old daughter last time) plus see her parents for the first time in twenty-one years but this was not to be, and she got into her pickup and had not yet closed her door. My body took a step forward like I was setting up for a goodbye kiss, but then as though I had reins in my hands I pulled back and took a step backward. She's oblivious to this detail, so don't think she had done anything to encourage this. This 'catching myself' was significant to me, which is why I write it here when the average person would say "you shouldn't tell about that, someone might see it." I came away from this second adventure with a clear head and a clear conscience, no niggling questions or bothersome concepts, and I had a very good time with someone I'm getting to know in ways that are more genuine and solid than the previous iteration.

The tiling of the hearth is nearly done; they're in place and glued down, and I'll be posting pictures after it gets grouted. Didn't quite come out as hoped due to the cement I put in not being level and the tiles not being either straight on the sheets or the same thickness as the corner pieces, but conceptually it was nice.

You know that you don't really fall in love
Unless you're seventeen
The break of day will make your spirits fly
But you can't know what it means
Unless you're seventeen...

-- David Gilmour, "All Lovers Are Deranged"

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