"But if you could heal a broken heart, wouldn't time be out to charm you?" - W. Axl Rose (circa 1991)
I never saw you in an ice-cream parlour. It was just a happenstance meeting on St. Patrick's Day in 2000. I was nineteen. It was a big party and I was there for a short time. Then we went on our way. Don't remember where and it doesn't matter... I remember you. But I was south campus and you were north of north campus. Didn't think twice about it. Over the years, we saw each other every now and again. I would sit with friends at a table near where a fire truck oh so viciously violated you. You were the place we went to meet and maybe eat before we went out to the "real" places for the night. How naive I was. I had some bittersweet memories in 2004 when I first saddled up to the bar. Watched the Pistons crush the Lakers but in the company of 2 of my closest friends, Lars Paycheck and the Crown Prince of Greenfield. Only seen those guys a couple times since then. Sweet summer sorrow.
A couple years later, things got a bit more serious. I started visiting you every Wednesday at the behest of another close friend who'd just moved back into the neighborhood. (Let's just call him Matrick.) I was living in Old North Columbus at this point so it made sense. Little did I know what I was walking into that first Wednesday night. We were individuals and rebels, fed up with the societal malaise afflicting our generation. We sat on one side of the bar (you) in "East Berlin," a relatively desolate place compared to the thriving and happy regulars on the "West Berlin" side. But we refused to pander. We used nicknames and propaganda to feel better about our plight. Our interactions with the other side grew over time, however, as news spread of our jukebox awesomeness and strong penchant for smart-assery. It may have been a year, not even 2, although it felt like 10 when our Berlin Wall fell. On a bright Saturday afternoon, I mosied on in only to find Matrick straddled up on the West Berlin side next to their leader, a colossal man they called Chud.
I initially froze in my tracks, not sure if I was allowed in this foreign territory. With assurances from the parties involved, I made my way over to West Berlin and my life has never been the same since. Over the next decade I lived, laughed, and loved with some of the best people you could possibly dream up, let alone realize exist. They helped me through hard times and celebrated the good times. And the good times were plenty. A boast about being "faster than Paul Pierce" led to a Race for Relief for the Haiti earthquake. A small man dancing in a wig led to the cleverest rendition of "Tiny Dancer" ever. Trash talk about basketball led to an impromptu midnight game in the rain at Como Park on the Sunday of Comfest weekend. I can (and will) always take credit for the full patio singalong to "Hold On" by Wilson Phillips. What memories!
As I write this, knowing our time is pretty much spent and we can no longer be together, I will fondly pay tribute to you as a memory and a dream. The people we met together will go down in history as the awesomest rag-tag group of unlikely souls sharing a journey in life and a profound effect on each other. And although it may be never again for us, that it once was, is more than good enough for me. Cheers!