Tuesday, October 2, 2018

Three Beautiful Things 09/28/18: Hendricks Park and the Years, Rose Wine and 3-Way IPA, An Evening in Whiteaker

1. I bade Terry and Nancy farewell until I return on Sunday and moseyed down I-5 to Eugene. Even though I'd been alone in the car all day Thursday, I arrived in Eugene grateful for several hours to myself to acclimate to being back in Eugene and to ponder what lay ahead during my visit.

I started out by going to Cornucopia where I ate a generous order of corn beef hash, eggs, and Pugliese toast. After eating, I struck out for Delta Ponds. I took a stroll, but the ponds were occupied by algae and I didn't see any herons, egrets, or turtles -- just a few ducks. So I left without taking any pictures and drove up to Hendricks Park. I sat at a picnic table to sit and ponder -- what Walt Whitman might call loafing.

After a good bit of loafing, I wandered over to the park's shelter and suddenly I was transported back in time thirty-nine years. Today was the last Friday of September and the end of the first week of classes at the U of O and LCC. Thirty-nine years ago, in 1979, I was at this shelter at the end of my first week of graduate school.

Suddenly, the ghosts of U of O graduate students and faculty filled the shelter. The ghosts reminded me that that in September of 1979 I began a long, slow period of failure in my life. By the time I had finally ended my time at the U of O in 1992, I had failed twice at marriage, failed to complete my dissertation, alienated any number of friends I deeply regret having lost, and failed to do anything about the fears of failure in graduate school or my fears of failure in marriage and other relationships -- fears that ultimately contributed mightily to the failures I experienced.

I know those thirteen years were marked by more than failures. I succeeded in being hired full time Lane Community College and any number of successes grew out of having the security of a full time job and doing work I deeply loved.

In addition, I didn't alienate all my friends and I'm very grateful that I continue to enjoy friendships that started (or continued) between 1979 and 1992 and thrive today. The failed friendships haunt me, but the ones that have endured uplift and fulfill me.

I am also very grateful that during those years I never lost or alienated any of my Kellogg friends and my family ties were intact.

While loafing and being haunted by ghosts at Hendricks Park, I was visited by one of my favorite of all memories. Back in September of 1997, as the Deke and I were getting acquainted, we agreed to each write a list of scenarios describing things we'd like to do with each other. One late afternoon in September of 1997, we met at Hendricks Park over a bottle of wine and read our scenarios to one another. We imagined painting pottery together, making a trip to Eastern Washington, renting a bicycle built for two, and other things, but I don't think on that September day either of us imagined that about six weeks later we'd be living together at 940 Madison or that on Christmas Eve we'd be going to the Lakeside Hichin' Post Chapel in CdA to get married. But, that's what happened.

2. By a delightful coincidence, when I booked a room in the Whiteaker neighborhood through airbnb, it turned out to be a house owned by the parents of two children the Deke had worked with as a teacher and when she did music with pre-schoolers. We had another connection with this couple. The husband had done work on our house at 940 Madison.

When I booked the room, I didn't recognize the couple's last name, but later, after some online searching and looking on Facebook, I did. I remembered the Deke and I had been to a Christmas party years ago at this house and I confirmed it all with the Deke.

So, I got checked in, established with my hosts, to their sheer delight, that I was the Deke's husband, and put my things in my room and jetted off to Perugino and enjoyed over two hours of awesome conversation with Michael and Margaret, capped off by a glass of Rose wine as Michael treated us each to a glass.

I didn't want to drink much more alcohol, but I did want see if a bunch of people who used to get together at High Street Pub on Fridays were there -- they weren't -- and so I strolled across the street to 16 Tons. I was elated to see that Ft. George's 3-Way IPA was on tap so I ordered a half a pint and it was so good I ordered a second half pint. I sat in a corner and welcomed in scores of ghosts of mirthful days and nights at 16 Tons back in 2011-14 and communed with the spirits of the many people I enjoyed in this tap house, happily indulging my many, many fond memories.

3. After drinking one glass of wine and one pint of beer, I wanted to park the Sube at the airbnb and walk for the rest of the evening. I then walked the half a mile from the airbnb to the Blair Blvd and Van Buren Street junction in the Whiteaker neighborhood and satisfied a longing I've had ever since leaving Eugene four years ago: I wanted to eat again at Izakaya Meiji. So I slipped into the packed house, found a single vacant seat at the bar, ordered some water, and reviewed the menu. Over the next hour or so I ate a plate of Spicy Pork and Tofu Dorburi, three Rockefeller Oysters, and a plate of beautifully seasoned Yakisoba noodles featuring perfectly prepared cabbage bits and other things.

While I ate this food, I didn't want any alcohol, but I decided that a bourbon and ginger would be a perfect cocktail to end my night. It was.

When I was a younger man, I would have roamed around the Whiteaker neighborhood after dinner, stopping in at Sam Bond's Garage, the Ninkasi tasting room, and made my way a few blocks away to Oakshire Brewing.

I am not a young man, though.

So, I strolled down Van Buren on my way to my room and suddenly from an apartment above me an audiophile was playing a stereo system with the apartment's sliding door open. Pink Floyd's "Shine on You Crazy Diamond" sounded more gorgeous and transporting than I had ever heard it before. I put my hands above me on the top of the wooden fence outside the apartment, bowed my head, and listened to the entire cut in an ecstatic state. I carried Pink Floyd back to the airbnb and went to bed.

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