5:15 pmOnce more I find myself in the Tavern, on a Saturday night. I'm working here for my co-worker on a night I would normally be with my children. I got a babysitter for them because I needed to do my friend a favor. He wanted to see a show, and I want to make sure I keep my job, so I offered to do this.
This time here is different. I needed the money before, but that condition hasn't changed. I need to be here and make some money to cover my obligations. This time is different because I'm also paying a babysitter while I'm here.
At the moment, though, I am watching an episode of Star Trek: The Next Generation where Beverly Crusher keeps losing people. As in, they keep disappearing from her universe. At first its a friend who no one else remembers. Then this experience extends to her medical staff. She can't control it, but the number of people in her life slowly counts down to just one.
And here I stand, typing at a bar that's so much part of my universe. People I used to work with here, and drank here with just the other day, are now at an engagement party two miles to the east of here. I would have liked to have gone, but I would have been the only single person. I can't comprehend anything different, especially when I know that so much of my life is going to continue to be spent working for other people, waiting for someone to serve.
I'm grateful for this, and feel useful every second I stand here, even if know one actually comes in. I am not sure I'll be able to cook for people, because it's been two years since I've even dried. I don't quite know where everything is. I did notice that things are set up better than they used to be, and that's because of my co-worker, the only other person who works here at night.
Crusher keeps losing more people. The size of the Enterprise is shrinking. I can feel her pain, even though I know what happens at the end when the magic wand is extended and fairy dust sparkles turn the world right back to the way it's supposed to be.
I can't even comprehend a magic wand at this point. Somehow, I've been unable to escape the reality that I need places like this to rely on, both as an employee and as a member of this community. The other night I came here because I had nowhere else I wanted to go. The size of my universe, meaning the place I feel comfortable, has been reduced to a handful. The number of people I feel comfortable around is very small indeed.
So I stand here, waiting for people to come in so I can play a role, and hopefully make a few people laugh. And if no one comes in, I'll play the role of writer and try that all night.
Of course, someone always comes in. A couple of women came in, and both are having beers and dinner. I'll have to cook something, and I've given the disclaimer. They're in no hurry to order and I'm happy to have someone here, someone to come in while I'm open. Crusher's universe is collapsing, but they're working to get her out of that bubble. I think I'll watch.
I forgot how much I like this show. It's a bubble of my own, a fictional show that has somehow come back to me this evening, reminding me I'm connected to the part of my life where this was a big part of my life as a child.
The oven is making very angry noises at me. It doesn't sound like an oven should. There's a pizza in there, and it should hopefully be delicious. So far, this is all I've had to do. I'm getting paid to make someone a pizza and bring them drinks. And not watch Star Trek, as there's no television in the kitchen area.
I walked over to the television and saw the crew being beamed up. At no point do I expect to be beamed up. In any sense of the word. I am going to remember this place when I'm dead, when the long dream kicks in. Maybe I'm already there, back to this place where this moment is always captured by these words. They might not be the best words, but a little bit of my life will always be entwined with them.
I am an amalgamation of all of the small moments. All of these mundane nights where I used my time to help another. In this case, three people. Me, the co-worker, and the woman who is currently babysitting the children. After all, this is not my usual night here. I don't do this, and I've not been here for a while. This is just a quirk in the schedule, no less or no better than any way I could have spent this moment. All of it is equal, in one sense of the word. All of it just is.
The night goes by fast when I have to cook food for people. I'm not used to this, but I'm astounded by how much this is like being right back where I was at other points in my life. Everything seems to line up to put me back here in a very uninteresting harmonic convergence. There are eight people here, and a lot of cars drive past without stopping.
I didn't go visit my parents this weekend, and didn't go see a good friend of mine who is in the same town for just these two days. I've spent so much of my time not being able to do the things I want because I had to work. I hear people complain a lot about not having a work-life balance, and I don't know if I have one or not. I simply have to do what I have to do.
I wasn't here for a while, though. Instead, I worked less through catering. I didn't make tips. I wasn't as much in charge of my destiny as being here in this time trap, from where so much has happened and I'm no longer sure if there's any actual life here, or if this is just me paying far too much attention to my past.
The night steadily moves on.
I didn't get to write this heading.
I also didn't get to write under this heading.
I made money tonight, it turns out! After paying the babysitter, I made $33 that will go in the bank. And I had a great night. It was slow but steady enough for one person working the place alone. But, I was so happy to see so many friends come in, and to make new ones. Now I am home, resting, and it's strange because my children are here for the first time on a Court Square night. They are asleep and happy, and had a good time with the sitter. I have an extra day with them on Monday.
I feel complete. I may not like it entirely, but I know I'm home when I am there. I know that I made the right decision to go back, because I get to be people part of people's life, if only for a moment or two.
Tonight, a couple came in after getting engaged. They bought another couple at the bar shots to celebrate. And then my friends P.J. and Rebecca came in, and I caught up on their lives. I met another new couple who just moved here. They failed to be amused by my insistence on explaining the strange multiple caused by a 9.3 percent tax rate on their purchase. And, of course, Joe came in with his girlfriend and we had a debate about Saturday Night Live.
Turns out that Court Square Tavern is the place where I best interact with the world. It really has been my most important space in this community. There's a reason that I keep ending up back there. It comes into my life when I need it. Right now working there is helping me feel a bit more stable as I evaluate the rest of my life.