Were you 18 in the spring of 1997?
weeknight sound track
what came before? Thursday. Start 2 AM. Stop 3 AM. what comes next?

Mellon Collie and the Infinite Sadness, Smashing Pumpkins
Tonight, Tonight, Smashing Pumpkins

I don’t stay out this late as much as I use to, only when I go home now. 2 AM is closing time here, when you’re left scurrying through the city looking for 24 hour restaurants and $1 pizza slices. Anything to keep from going straight home.

It is the same as it was the spring after I graduated from high school. Then the coffee house closed at 2 and now the bars do.

The remaining ritual of the night stays the same.

For the most part.

Some nights I drive. Just drive. No search for something more. Just time and space alone.

This will always be home no matter how long I am away. The roads, the buildings, the landscape are all marked in my mind. It is my home of first kisses, first cars, first loves, first jobs, first broken hearts, and first good bye‘s.

But you can never ever leave without leaving a piece of youth.

Nightswimming, R.E.M.
Jesus Doesn’t Want Me for a Sunbeam, Nirvana

I think back about all the people I know but haven't seen in years- Jules, Dan, Joe, Cortnei, Hans, Blaine, Mike, Seth… oh man, Seth. The last time I saw him he was sitting on a statue downtown spewing gibberish about the coming Communist revolution.

It isn’t that I miss these people, but I do miss the time spent rolling down the hills at the Capital on the 4th of July, watching fire breathers in the street at midnight, sitting on the hood of my car staring at the stars, telling time by Orion’s position, and going to Souls.

This is a Call, Foo Fighters
Sabotage, Beastie Boys
Bulls on Parade, Rage Against the Machine

I have a route. Merle Hay to University, University over to 42cd St, 42cd St on past my high school and across the freeway down to Grand Avenue. This takes me past the Des Moines Art Center- a pointless museum (except for a Francis Bacon piece they have and some massive Lichtenstein’s) but an interesting building. Some of my best photographs are of that building

After passing the Art Center I take a right on 41st and do a little tour South of Grand. This is where Des Moines’ old money lives. They don’t stay up this late. I fly past their million dollar homes with the radio up high and they never know. I almost feel bad for them

The river isn’t far from here. The roads are steep and full of curves. I don’t have a method of exploration because then it would cease to be an exploration. It’s hard to get lost down there. Get yourself going north on any street and you will eventually hit Grand again. Sometimes I come out by my old Church or the art deco apartments I always wanted to live in, sometimes by the Governor’s Mansion.

The bar traffic is home by now and the streets are empty. It’s best on a rainy night when the streets are slick and shiny and the stop lights reflect on the black pavement.

It blows my mind how fast the city changes. Even in the short periods of time between when I come back. Construction. Remodeling. Closings. Openings. They’ve finally opened a Starbucks.

I Got This Fucking Thorn In My Side

4 out of 5, Soul Coughing
Nothing Gonna The Folk Implosion

Live in one place long enough and you know where the cops are and where they aren’t. Ultimate road freedom- knowing exactly what to expect and how to handle it. If anyone ever asked me what I was thinking about in times like this, I wouldn’t be able to say. It’s not that I wouldn’t know- I just wouldn’t be able to put it into words.

Sometimes I was drifting on a coffee buzz.

Starshine, Gorillaz
Marla, Dust Brothers

I’ve tried to take people out with me, but it’s never the same.

“This is where we tried to go T-peeing one night but the security guards showed up.”

“Here’s where I use to go to lunch every day… someone else owns the place now.”

“Yeah, I made out in that park once.”

You can’t explain why a place is home. You can’t point it out to someone. And a post card will never capture how beautiful I think the skyline is.

When you gonna find me?

Ghost, Howie Day
Disappointed, The Frames

Despite my love and comfort, I am disconnected from here. I am an outsider. I don’t know who won the recent football game or who is running for Superintendent of the school district. I don’t know if Iowa or Iowa State is having a better wrestling season.

And I don’t mind that I don’t know these things.

Yet other people seem to mind and this is what makes me an outsider. It’s like they can sense I am from here but not any more.

Of the people I knew in high school, there are a handful of us like that now- ones who’ve moved on and come back a stranger. At least we see it as moving on. Other people see it as moving away. But there was no abandonment. You can’t escape the things which shaped you.

There is a difference between being home and feeling at home. I don’t feel at home in my home anymore. If that makes sense. I have a life somewhere else and when I come back here everything looks the same but it feels different.

Is this making any sense?

Lost Souls is closed now. Someone opened up a Mission Oak furniture store where it use to be. The $1 slices at Big Tomato just aren’t as good any more. Shit. I can’t even remember if they are $1 or $2. The coffee at Perkin’s seems a little more stale now.

I’m not sad. Just disappointed.

You’ve Got To Hide Your Love Away, Eddie Vedder

I am like my father- I never change the clock in my car because in another few months it will be the right time again. Sometimes I loose track of this and think it is later than it really is.

Orion is now across the street from my house.

Were you listening to all that? Did you get it all down?

Hey, you’ve got to hide your love away.

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