Where The Hell Is Kalamazoo?
It's somewhere up north in a state that's shaped like a mitten, that's where.
Man oh man, it's cold in Kalamazoo. Cold and leafy. It's all due to this one huge lake nearby, which affects things like temperature, precipitation, and daily astrological forecasts. Brrrrr. Pretty leaves, though!
During the majority of this trip, I was tired. I guess the jetlag thing threw me off. Plus, Michigan is pretty fast-paced: the residents of Kalamazoo drive as though they're late for a wedding. Despite the weather, which ranges in temp. from freezing to sauna, people there get out of bed and do things. Where I'm from, we spend hours preparing to do what we should do by analyzing whether or not we should do it. Kalamazoo people rake things up, take things for walks, harvest things (out of which they make jars of things), write books, and work full-time so they can pay for things. I don't know where these people summon the energy to also be hospitable.
Most hospitable was ginab's dog, Beatrice, who isn't used to people snoring away in the living room (or is she?) I think Beatrice remembered me a little. Because unless you're its owner, the dog doesn't get much out of you besides a good petting. But ginab's dog spent every night on the couch next to my bed. Maybe I'm friends with a dog. (A farting dog named Beatrice.)
Sometimes Beatrice farted alone at home while ginab and I ran around town, doing things. One evening, ginab took me along to observe her class. She's having her students write a research paper about fame. We watched scenes from a documentary about Marilyn Monroe, and afterwards the students discussed the things they saw and their own definitions of fame.
We were invited to a Halloween party. I was self-conscious about showing up, since I'm not in graduate school now -- I finished a few years ago. But I'd never turn down a party.
On our way to this party, we stopped at a supermarket to buy a sixer. We were waiting in line when ginab decided that we needed masks and headdresses as well, because ginab knows how to have fun. I just love it when people inspire me to do things I wouldn't normally do.
As soon as I stepped inside, I was glad I'd costumed up a little, since this was a serious Halloween party, featuring smoke machines and round glowing balls and something in the bathtub that scared the shit out of me every time I went to pee. Among the attendees were two young ladies wearing those seventies running shorts with the contrasting piping, disco shirts, and roller skates; Hulk Hogan in some mighty fine pants; a hula-hooping ladybug; and an adorable bear with a bad attitude. The host was 100% convincing in his werewolf costume while the hostess, who was dressed up like an ice-queen, was not convincing at all because she looked like the queen of sweet sugar.
At the party I ran into an old friend who urged me to call my ex-roommates -- they, the ex-roommates, have a baby daughter now, and I've never met her. I ran out of time (short trip) and didn't get around to visiting or even phoning. I regret this, because both of these people are very dear to me. I sure hope this wasn't my last chance to see them. I'll send them a Christmas card.
But I did get to see my teacher, the bone-eye. She called ginab's to ask if we'd come over for a home-cooked meal. At B's place we ate bright yellow eggs laid by her own chickens, her brother's apricot jam, bread, crackers, apples, cheese, biscotti, and bacon. A royal spread. B asked us about our writing. Right now, I can barely keep up with this blog, but when I was in graduate school I wrote like crazy -- in a typical semester I'd pound out five awful stories for every good one. When I took B's class, I had a lucky streak, and everything I turned in was decent. Now, I've become a slow writer, and much less prolific. B brought up how important it is to take risks in fiction, and then I remembered why I was so productive when I had her for a teacher. And she said I might sign up for a workshop, since I'm not in a writing group. That sounded like a good idea.
I think B's husband put off leaving for work so he could see us. That was awfully nice, and I wish I could've spent more time talking to him. He seems like a super cool guy. He'd taken a really great photo of ginab -- it was up on their dining room wall.
Why, oh why didn't I bring my camera?! I guess I was tired & wasn't thinking.
One of the nicest moments of the trip was when Ginab took me to check on some flowers.
I met my friend J for breakfast -- that was also quite nice. He told me about this struggle he's having and how well the struggle is paying off. I could tell just by looking at him. He looks wonderful, and he seems pretty happy. I was so glad to see it. I hope I seemed happy, too, because I am happy.
The second nicest moment was when the three of us (j, ginab, and ing) shared childhood memories of things we did at our parents' parties. I'll tell you mine later, and hopefully Ginab will tell hers. Here's J's: At a party his parents were throwing, J was overcome with a powerful idea, so he ran into the kitchen where he emptied all the the boxes of cereal they'd stored there.
While he worked, J couldn't rid himself of the vision that sparked his idea. The vision was from a Wrigley's Gum commercial, one that ran pretty often at the time: four young-adult males run across a beach carrying surfboards with the word "Wrigley's" emblazoned along their lengths.
Once he'd constructed his cereal-box-board, J ran through the party and out the back door, singing the theme to Wrigley's gum. Once he made it outside, though, he tripped and fell flat on his face and went from elation to despair.
Man, I wish there was a way to gather together everyone I know. Seeing everyone again made me realize how much these ties and connections mean. I hope to do a better job of maintaining contact with people in the future, even if I don't speak to them for a long time. It's so great to know that we aren't alone in this world, not by any stretch.