I am a sucker for the foreign sense of something familiar. Stepping into a world that I once occupied, I easily become lost in the lovely reverie of my past self.
Take, for example, this bar.
I’ve never sat in this corner or in this chair, but I’ve been here, in this room, at least a dozen times. Mostly by myself, sometimes with a lover or a friend, and once for yoga. Down dogs across a sticky, yeast-dripped floor are not as romantic as chalkboard advertisements make them out to be.
Caught in the tide of alone-ness, my stomach gurgles with malt and pleasure. There is a simplicity to sitting here on one’s own, a type of soft rebellion that has increasingly become my style. My hair is a gentle mess of blonde and gray and a slight hint of purple, short and “spunky,” as some would say. It’s a cut that most people can’t pull off: at least, that’s what they tell me.
I’ve perched my feet up on a well-placed ottoman, army green boots laced with orange. These, too, are oddly foreign and familiar. They represent the past 4 years of my life: 3 with a man I once thought was true love and 1 with myself, whom, admittedly, I am still learning how to love at 30 years old.
It gets me thinking.
Thinking about what I hold tightly to for the pleasure of experiencing the familiar. The deep love I have for moments with myself, writing or drawing or (let’s be honest) scrolling through a newsfeed. Sitting naked at my writing desk, looking longingly out the window as poets often do, grasping the throb of feeling that may not be there in the first place. Or perhaps the throb is so strong, so evident, that all I can do is pen it to paper and give it a life it’s never had.
I’m at this bar alone and yet I tow the collection of lost, worn out feelings that I’ve sheltered. They spin from my fingers. I recognize the sputter, the click and the whirl but I still don’t know what comes next and why.
Do you know what I mean?
These boxed up, pinned down, not-so-much collector’s items accrue in my chest and I’ve already looked through them. My fingers have thumbed pages of words, once important for the relevance, now essential for the perspective. You can’t read along with me, but you can see the shuffle of sheets filled with smudged meaning.
That’s why places, spaces, the in-betweens— like this bar— are necessary stops for me. I sit in the familiar, and dwell on what’s foreign, to understand what’s real. To me.
Oh and what a soft, gentle rebellion that is.