Saturday, November 2, 2019

Some times are better than others

Yep.  There are some times in life that you look back on with fondness, some you wish you could forget, and then many that you eventually forget whether you want to or not.

In my life, there have been ups and downs to be sure.  Since I've had kids, the memories seem to run in a different way, being a hodgepodge of good, bad, scary, thankfulness and just never eager for the kids to grow up since I realize some day I will miss most of what they brought to the table while living at home.

Before I had kids, however, in hindsight at least, I had certain periods of life that were very good, and some not so good, and many forgettable.  Also, it's odd how certain things trigger and tend to bring you back to those better memories more often than not. Take this picture for instance:

I can't say I've ever only sat on a bench in the fall once in my life, but when I saw this on a page dedicate to all things Autumn, there was one memory that came right to my mind.

It wasn't a particularly proud memory, but yet it is one that marked a very good time in my youth.  It was late October of 1987, and it was my Junior year of college, the first semester that I had moved away from home to live at the main campus of The Ohio State University.  It was most of what one would hope for in their first foray at a major university, and it wasn't hurt by the fact that in that semester at least, the seasons were almost perfect.  From a warm late summer, to a crisp, cloudy autumn, to snow in the last weeks of the quarter, it seemed to give me almost everything I imagined college would be in the Midwest, at least atmosphere-wise.

Anyway, on this particular fall day, I was sitting alone and recuperating.  What was I recuperating from?  A friend of mine had invited me to a big post-midterm party with him and several of his friends from the theater and dance departments.  I was not in either department, but he and I had grown up together.  So I agreed to go. I even plucked up the courage to ask a fine young lass named Heidi if she would join me.  She said yes, against all odds.  So on that Saturday, I couldn't wait to be there and to see what might come of partying with a very well presented young woman I had come to like.

Now, it was the age before cell phones, before the internet, and before any way of contacting someone if you didn't know the phone number.  So I had no way of knowing she had been called upon to work late and couldn't come to the party.  Not knowing this, I became rather crestfallen.  My friend, being a stupid college kid, decided to help me 'drown my sorrows.'  And drown I did.  I drank, and drank, and drank some more.  I mixed drinks with wine, whiskey, beer, cocktails, and something blue.  I became so hammered I couldn't remember leaving.

I walked home alone near that witching time of night, not wishing to get sick in front of everyone, which my inebriated brain was nonetheless able to communicate was going to happen.  And it happened.  Boy did it happen.  Back at my apartment, I continued to get sick over and over and over again.  One of my roommates woke up amidst the noise and took to fixing me tea and toast, just to give me something to get sick with.  It was so bad that I burst the vessels in one of my eyes, turning the whole orb a bright, blood red.  In addition, my face was swollen as if I had been in a fight, and the pain was from my head down to my side.

I was panic stricken.  My face, and worse my blood filled eye, could have been permanent for all I knew, and I had no way of knowing what happened.  My best friend was nowhere to be found, and I knew nobody else from the party. The next Monday I had to go to class.  I wore sunglasses through the classes to avoid showing off my visual impediment.  I then kept to myself while I waited for my late afternoon class.

As time for the class got nearer, I walked over in the chill of the day to the area near the class building, just beside the old Student Union.  I sat down on a bench, wrapped in my black overcoat and donning my sunglasses.  While sitting there, still smarting for reasons I didn't know, another student walked by.  Suddenly he stopped and came up to me.  He was African American and, being from a very white village growing up, I had a dearth of African American acquaintances.  I had no idea who he was.

He paused, and bent down as if to get a better look at me.  Then he asked if I was the fellow at the party Saturday night. I clarified the one he meant, and he meant the very party I had attended.  I said yes.  He then erupted with a smile and laugh and asked what happened to me and where I went.  I told him I left due to whatever reason I came up with.  I asked him how long everyone else stayed around.  He said almost no  time at all.  Apparently once I left the party broke up because, according to him, I was the life of the party.   He said most were only staying around to see what I would do next.

Fortunately it was nothing too embarrassing.  Though apparently I did guzzle half a bottle of Jim Beam as several of the young men bowed and genuflected before me.  Hence the sickness.  Also, one of the students who lived there, being in theater, had one of those large director's chairs that sit about five feet off the floor.  Apparently I had crawled up there at one point and then promptly fell, a dead fall straight onto the concrete floor.  Hence the pain and swelling in my face (as well as explaining a sudden scream I vaguely recalled but couldn't explain).

He talked a little bit more then continued on to wherever he was walking.  I never saw him again.  I chuckled to myself about what must have happened, and later found my best friend who assured me that I did nothing too humiliating, while also informing me why Heidi never showed up.  And yes, the swelling and the eye eventually worked themselves out and all ended up fine.  After that, I never binge drank again.

It's odd how that picture brought all of that back to my mind.  Again, it was a fine time, a good time.  There were many enjoyable memories from that time, especially that first Autumn semester.  I don't mean to be too gushy, but I might even call it one of the more magical times of my life.  Perhaps it's a bit of that ol'magic that allows a simple image on the Internet to transfer me back in the blink of an eye and remember something that still feels as if it happened yesterday.

Ohio State in the fall, as I remember it

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