Tonight I went to one of my favorite bars at which to write. Favorite because a) they have the best bourbon selection in town, b) they have a great happy hour with a plethora of delicious, relatively inexpensive and filling treats and c) the bar is flat, with no lip. I can set down a pad and pen and easily scratch away and nobody bugs me. Also, the owners are really great people and it’s just a cool place. But I forgot it’s southern-themed, and so Mardi Gras, and thus when I got there, the bar was almost completely full. I was surprised at first, because it’s a Tuesday and usually in Cleveland Tuesday is kind of slow, but then I remembered which Tuesday it was and it made sense.
There was one seat, on the corner, and I took it. As I sipped at my bourbon, I started writing. A treatment for a made-for-TV-movie I have in mind. It flowed easily and the noise in the bar was just steady enough so as to not be distracting. After I’d written three pages, my food arrived and I looked up to notice the people around me. A young couple next to me was talking about other places in the area as displayed on their phone. The guy of the couple asked about what I was eating and we started a conversation. They were from Columbus and had dinner reservations elsewhere on E. 4th street, and wanted to know where else they should go while in town the next couple of days. Well, did they luck into the right person, or what? I started in with a host of suggestions around where they were having dinner, and the guy started taking notes on his phone. Then another plan for another night, at the Flats East Bank. Then a few more places that are must-not-miss for Cleveland. And then to circle back to the neighborhood where we were, and some great places there in addition to the one we were sitting in. The couple to my left and to the couple’s right were both nodding and chiming in and saying I was hitting all their favorite spots. I love being an ambassador for Cleveland.
After further discussion, turns out the girl grew up in my hometown, albeit decades after I did. Because it’s a very small town, we did find points of overlap – did you know this person, this place, these people who owned this thing, and marveled at how small Ohio really can seem. They asked if I had a blog (so hi, if you’re reading!) and I scribbled it down on a scrap of paper and sent them out into the wintery night, telling them to be careful. I hope they have a fantastic time.
The weather is truly frightful tonight as it has not been really all winter. Roads horrible, limited visibility, very cold temps. I went to the theater anyway, even though my fucking jaw was killing me from the temporary crown procedure today at the dentist, even though I didn’t much feel like reading anything or socializing and even though I looked like garbage because it’s been a long and incredibly difficult day. I was glad I went. I love seeing these people in my tribe and discussing theater and people we know and who is doing what. I feel a part of something that’s important to me when I go there, even if I’m mostly only watching (I was persuaded to take a small part in a great piece, and really enjoyed it). It was good I went. I made connections and had conversations that were enriching, bizarre, flattering and exciting, and I needed that after this day.
I crept home tonight on the roads which seemed untouched by plows and salt, people only going 35 or 40. Things have changed for me. I’m no longer terrified or even terribly bothered by the roads. I just took it slow and figured I’d get there eventually, and I did. Jim Ladd on the radio talking me home, that rich voice that I so love, and playing some really good music to keep me company.
I miss my cat, though she’s been gone a few years now. Cold nights like this when you come home, you wish you had something warm to cuddle up to.
Stay warm, Clevelanders (and visitors). This will soon pass and we continue to quicken the pace towards spring. This won’t last. Like so many things. So squeeze what joy from it you can, even if you have to grab ahold really hard and press it to you in order to find it. Suck out the marrow.