Yesterday I went to the Parkview Nightclub after an ambling bike ride home from the east side. An unlikely neighborhood pub on a hill next to route 2, a block from the dead-end of w58th street, I found it for the first time by accident, riding past the houses near the detroit shoreway and battery park on one of countless nothing-rides around town. Yesterday was perhaps only my third or fourth time at this bar. I went there alone.
Mine was the only bike on the rack when I walked in, and I took a seat at the bar between a couple eating sliders and a gentleman having happy hour with some friends. I don't remember what was on the tv; I ordered a Dortmunder and read the burger list five times, in a heavy daze. I got drunk pretty quick, but it was a mild sort of drunkeness: an easy, comforting fuzz. I wrote out a calendar on a check book that the bartender gave to me when he saw me write "august" on a napkin, and then I wrote out some thoughts about missing opportunities and letting anxiety keep me hidden in my hutch of an apartment. How many times did Mitch text me asking if I wanted to get a beer at Parkview? How many times did I decline?
The couple next to me left their plates with a leaf of lettuce and potato chips, and the happy-hour friends to my right were talking about an accident that happened on Clifton this weekend in the detached, that's-so-awful sort of way that we all talk about tragedies when they don't involve us directly. Someone died, they sad, and I started crying as I admitted, "he was my friend." All three (maybe four?) of those folks said they were sorry, laced with a pretty genuine sense of "aww, poor thing." I left four bucks on the bartop when I left and even though I was tearful I felt moderately less alone.
By the late afternoon, Crank-Set Rides had gotten fundraiser status for a couple of upcoming theme rides, in order to help pay for Mitch's funeral costs. On August 25th, the 20-30 something misfit-hipster bike community here will throw on tiny shorts and tank tops and ride around in the name of the king of cutoffs, missing, of course, our most important member. Facebook and Twitter have been full of feeds about Mitch, and people are reaching out to one another with invites for drinks, rides, and tacos...
We don't, or I don't, think about permanence. I believe, foolishly or not, that if we are alive, if we exist, then there is hope. This thought keeps me from despair. Only when something is destroyed do the options end, and that is when I truly feel hopeless, helpless. Yesterday morning I woke up sore and stiff, and I waddled through my apartment to brush my teeth and find some pants, turning on my computer to read through and weed through a page of twitter updates, clicking on an unlikely R.I.P. posted by an old acquaintance. Mitch is dead. I wanted to call him, at 8 am on a Monday morning, and ask him what the fuck was going on, and then I realized that I couldn't. That's the end of the affair. That's the permanence that I'm not quite used to yet.
I keep hoping Mitch is actually at work, laughing his perfect ass off that we were all gullible enough to believe in his mortality.
Unfortunately I think we're all just old enough to be at the cusp of the realization that people die, and that means they can't come back.
I'm antsy and I'm anxious to get out of this town. I have been itching to leave and see some World for years. I am not blind, however, to the way people here can (and will, and do, and are) rally. Around the good stuff- nice weather, a rare sports-team winning streak, a local-artisan appreciation— and the not so good stuff, like Mitch's death. I appreciate the small-ness of Cleveland in that it lacks a lot of the biting clique-ishness that makes a lot of small things hard (Bowdoin, for example, or Chagrin, or certain workplaces or sports teams, on and on). It's a small city, and we're all underdogs, and while the cool places and people are sprawled around a still-largely blighted radius, we know when and how to find one another when being alone and hurt is not an option. Wherever I go next, probably I won't meet people who so instinctively know how ride in a pack and make it through.