Wednesday, February 18, 2009

Remembering what matters

A man I never heard of died recently. His name was Bill Jellison.

I read a eulogy for Bill in today's Kennebec Journal. It was written by the manager of Augusta's Bread of Life Soup Kitchen, where Bill was a regular "client."

I hope you'll click on the word "eulogy" above and read what Patsy Tessier said about Bill. Do it soon because the KJ's information goes into archives you have to pay for after a time. Bill seems like a pretty beat character to me.

But that's not the point. My plan for today's post was to examine why hanging out in a bar is of great comfort to me. Yesterday I re-read my journal from my 2-week visit in Ireland in 2004. Lots of pub experiences there! At that time, I was a regular - like Bill at the Kitchen - at a bar in Mansfield, PA called Mark's Brother's. By regular I mean I was there almost every day at some point or another. I lived alone, and truly the bar scene met my needs for connection and to know I mattered to someone. I guess it was kind of like the TV show Cheers. You know, a place you can go where "everybody knows your name."

My examination was going to delve into my plans for this day, a day when I am off from work and it's Wednesday and I am going to drive to Gardiner for what Crystal calls my "rounds." I'll stop at the vet for cat food and Frontline. I'll stop by the Gardiner house (that will sell some day, right?) to check on it. Then I'll go to the A1 to Go and have a mocha and read and journal. Unless my friend Robert is there, in which case he'll chat me up the entire time and it's all good. Then I'll make my way to The Depot for lunch and a couple of pints. Hopefully my other friend Robert (see The Roberts) will be there, and we'll catch up and chew the fat and poke fun at people (like the denizens at the far corner of the bar: "Republican corner," Robert calls it) and visit with Lindsay the bartender and Kerri the cook and Steve the owner.

Because you see we are comfortable there. It meets basic human needs we all have (thanks, Abe). We know that for a couple of hours we can just relax, be ourselves, laugh, talk, and feel like we matter. Like we're part of something. Like if we didn't show up for a long time, someone - anyone - would miss us.

Or write a piece like Patsy did for today's newspaper.

I wish Bill could read what Patsy wrote. Moreso, I hope Patsy told him such things while he was still a regular at the Kitchen.

Even if she didn't, she reminded us all of what's important. Didn't she?


John Grochalski said...

such is the joy of the bar. i feel more comfortable in them than in some friend's homes. traveled the USA in 2007, and spent more time in bars in various cities than in sightseeing places

John Grochalski said...

such is the joy of the bar. i feel more comfortable in my two favorite taverns than i do in some people's houses. in 2007 i traveled the USA by car, and spent more time in bars in cities than anywhere else. that's where the heart and culture of a place rests.

Crystal said...

My own little "Cheers" location for the past five years or so has been The Higher Grounds coffee shop in Hallowell, Maine. It's called a coffee shop and you can, indeed, get a cup of coffee there, albeit not the greatest coffee. But the espresso martinis that Jonah makes are unparalled. Stop by sometime and check it out. You'll find music there practically every night of the week, often quite excellent.