I'm at Howards. When I was a grad student, we made a point of trying to get out and socialize on at least one off-night...so, instead of standard drunken weekend activities, we could have one night to discuss our new academic life outside the confines of schoolwork...when we weren't actively trying to avoid school talk. Eventually, this started happening here, at this bar. Then we settled on Tuesdays. It became one of my institutions. More than anything or anywhere else, it became my place and time to make and be with friends.
This tradition continued on for years, with people joining in and leaving when they finally moved on with their lives. But more always came to take their places. The drinks flowed, the conversations rambled, and release was certainly had by many. We kept it going on so long, I was sure it would never end.
But then it did end. I kept finding myself by myself but not sure why.
And yet I'm still here. My focus changed from exploratory critical thinking to group socializing to now solitary writing. I now have a beard with gray hairs. I have my own mug at this bar even though I now don't drink. The bartenders all know and seem to like me...we talk as they pour my cran juice and water. I still go to my same seat at the same table, but instead of being surrounded by friends and colleagues, the only patrons I now see are the girls who come in to practice their hula hoop dance moves.
I still am having problems figuring out how all this happened. I went from being the weird kid who no one wanted to hang out with, to carving out a circle of friends in spite of my introversion, to moving across the country and carving out another group of friends, to doing that time and time again as people filtered in and out of this town, to discovering I was really an extrovert held back by my clinical depression, to getting as mentally healthy as I've ever been, to now finding myself with hardly anyone who wants to hang out.
I also still don't understand the hula hoop dancers. I doubt I ever will.
At least the bar's still here...so hope's still also here.