Saturday, June 19, 2010

too good for beer

I'm sitting under a tree outside the bradford county library near tonawanda, pa. while I've been told I behave that way, I don't think of myself as dedicated, but there are certain things I do almost on a neurotic scale daily: shaving, brushing my teeth, making my bed and exercising. without exception, I've failed to keep those practices between thursday and today.

well, I take that back: I did get all of them in at some point, just not on a regular basis. I managed some excercise thursday afternoon by revisiting one of my old stomping grounds outside new paltz. when we lived there in the early 90s I often walked our dog gynnady on the new york city aqueduct trail along the shawangunk mountains and I wanted to see it again for nostalgia's sake. the water department has put a chain fence along the trail's perimeter but also left a gap of about 16 inches between the fence and gate. I pushed through that without difficulty and wandered for over an hour down the path we used to take on the eastern side of mohonk road. there were recent bike tracks and a few bootprints and a single truck track since the last rain, but otherwise the path hadn't been disturbed for a long time. trees had fallen across it in places and the grass and weeds were at my hips in others. critters scattered under the brush ahead of my feet and I startled a deer and a cat at different times. it was well worth the wander--at points I could almost imagine my good little black dog sniffing the dust ahead of me and that left me smiling.

I got together with friends for dinner and beers and as if it was 1987 all over slept on george and blanca's couch (though not the same one). early the next morning blanca made me espresso peruvian style and we talked for 2 hours, then she went to work and george made me espresso italian style and we talked longer. he caught me up on people whose names I hadn't heard in 15 years and we talked about what he called the epidemic of divorce among his friends. I pointed out it was better than the deaths we might have expected. he had spent nearly a year teaching english in italy and come back bitten by the bug so we went over his resume and I gave him what I hope were good pointers about applying at 2-year schools. at one point I showed him the photo of someone we used to know from decades back who teaches at marist and the light glowed in his eyes and he said, "if that bastard can do it, I can do it," which I think is the first time he realized that he really can.

I finally shaved and showered and brushed my teeth at 4 and at 530 he and blanca and their teen son went with me to dinner in town. it was a fine meal, a middle eastern buffet housed in a place where there used to be a deli where we bought beer and ice cream after midnight 25 years ago. the food was so good I could not drink but had ginger beer because of the sharpness. and then I got in the car and drove back to my sister's place.

new paltz has changed of course, in some places for the better, in some places not so much. I still felt like a moth confronting a candle being there and each time I drove or walked on main street people stared at me because my smile was too big for my mouth.

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