Friday, May 26, 2006

Thursday night musings

My roommate drives a beat up old Chevy pickup. It has a new engine, but the driver's side windshield wiper falls off regularly, the front end has been hit by something large, and the tailgate is missing.

We were heading up to a place called TK's Bar in Louisville. It had just finished storming, so the streets were slick with hot rain. I had rolled the passenger window down so I could smoke, and I watched the lightning flash in the angry clouds headed east. We passed by the Dixie Highway's usual suspects -- low-rent strip clubs, redneck bars, abandoned used car dealerships, bait shops, body shops, fast food joints, and other monuments to dreams gone sour.

The bar was a nice place -- apparently, a happening joint, as the DJ pumped up some popular club anthems once the karaoke requests dried up. I ordered a beer and leaned on the bar, sipping the familiar Newcastle.

Lately, it's been hard not to think of things here as transitory pieces of scenery. I've finally reached the point where the light at the end of the tunnel is visible, even if it's still more than a year distant. "This too shall pass," I've heard. It makes sense now.

I joined the Army because I thought it would offer a unique first experience in journalism, which it most definitely has. But now, as I head into the final leg of my military tour, I wonder what the indelible mark it leaves on me will look like. Have I grown overly resentful of the U.S. government? Have I developed an undue contempt for people in general, thanks to being an enlisted soldier? Was it my joining the Army that has so radically altered my perceptions, or was it the times I've lived in? Does it matter?

The girl my roommate drove to TK's to meet finally showed up. She was beautiful, but hammered, and 19 years old. I looked at her, with her tight black shirt hiked up over her belly showing off the bejeweled navel piercing and thought about how she was two years older than my little sister. I turned back to the bar and ordered a Bass.

Jeffrey Gettlemen is two years older than I am. He works for the New York Times. Where will I be in two years? Where will my little sisters be? I've missed out on seeing them grow into young adults already.

It's like being part of a big entropy experiment... the elements of my life I thought I'd never be without have continuously spread apart just as I've drifted away from our original point.

My roommate's drunk young friend left us for another table of her friends, and we headed out to the parking lot and climbed back into the beat-up old truck.

It's time to focus. I'm not old, yet. But I'm not getting any younger.