Journal Entry: March 1st, 2014
The familiar squeak of the hinges and then the warm rush of a forced-air furnace, I’m instantly relaxed. A few faces turn to smile at our arrival and the lively chatter resumes. We place our coats on ancient, battered hangers and line up our shoes with the others, snow melting wet puddles into the abused carpet. The routine of this moment is so comforting. For one night each week, this run-down bowling alley is my happy place. I forget about my incessant need to tackle something more meaningful, I let go of my nagging subconscious telling me to think bigger.
Thursday nights are for cracking corny jokes, for smiling wide and genuine, for contemplating new theories on alcohol to turkey ratios: this week I bowl better with my glasses and drinking only Coors Light, last week’s three cocktail minimum was a total bust.
This is where my fears of impressing a small community fade, where I feel less like an outsider and more a part of the scenery in which I want so badly to blend. The radio plays state basketball playoffs and the whole place keeps one ear on the game. But it’s not all easy talk of weather and sports. Somewhere between clashing pins and stiff cocktails, the hard stuff filters through, quiet conversations with down-turned eyes; the recent loss of a beloved sister, struggling to find your place in a community you’ve called home for 30 years, worries over a son’s divorce.
It’s easy to gaze on this scene and call it simple but there is nothing easy about this life.