Looking west as the sun sets and mysterious smoke billows

I sigh as I begin to write this as a task I was hoping to undertake on my computer doesn't seem to be working and I'm not sure how to fix the situation. I'm dismayed that smoke or dust or white particles seem to be drifting north from the vicinity of the unfinished Landmark Hotel. 

I sigh because all is not what it could be. I'm 43 years of age and I'm somewhat accomplished but it appears to me that reality is made of wet tissue paper and at any moment any unwanted force could cause the entire container of me to crumble and tear.

That smoke or dust or cloud of white particles alarms me as the evening sun falls down towards the horizon, changing the quality of light to what filmmakers call the Golden Hour. I am long past the point where I feel the mythology of celluloid has any power over me.

I want to know why things are the way they are in the real world I can see and feel. I appreciate the power of story but I wonder how damaged our society has become through the gradual and perpetual wetting of the foundations upon which we grew.

I have falsely lived my life under the assumption that other people ask questions and want to know why things are the way they are. I am now sighing because the lack of curiosity among people who are also alive alarms me. But maybe that itself is a false assumption.

"It's smoke from the fryer from Citizen Burger Bar," says the owner of the place where I am sitting, and sure enough, that makes sense. With an answer in place I am satisfied. I asked a question and a loop was closed when I got the information that best fits my query.

This is the fourth attempt in a week or so to resume a tradition of writing in this space, continuing a set of descriptions that dates back over a decade of my life. I am not aware of any of how the gravity works in my life and I am not aware of how I affect others. I know I am capable of putting words together in a way that makes sense to me, but I am also aware of the many deficits and defects in my life. I sigh a lot because I don't know what else to do anymore. I am aware that I have made tremendous mistakes and that I have always lived my life with the sense that there was a fire, a fault, an empire of paper so susceptible to corruption of integrity.

But sometimes when  you can work out where the smoke comes from, you can work out backwards how to stop the fire, stop the rot, learn  to work within an ever-changing river that will drown you if you can't work out how to breathe.


On a metal table on a brick walkway

Strangers stream past me on their way to wherever strangers stream. There's a constant flow of humanity all around me as I sip a third coffee, my price of admission to sit in this metal chair whose four legs are atop bricks that were laid here in 2009. 

I'm transcribing a candidate forum from the other night for a story. It is a holiday but I don't feel like relaxing or doing nothing. I feel there is a great deal that needs work both in my life and in my professional life. 

I crane my head from left to right to witness all of these humans I don't know and wonder what their lives are like and what they dream of and what they are afraid of and what they are interested in. The candidates' chatter is passing over me as I type these words, sipping my coffee, waiting to hear if there's anything else I need to write into the narrative.

Yesterday I worked a wedding at Trump Winery and there were many strangers who traveled here for that event. I believe one of the people from my table just strolled past but I didn't leap up to go ask any questions. These days I am not much of the interviewing type, but more of the transcribing type. 

I dislike that there are so many strangers and that I try to keep people acquaintances more than friends because I'm not sure I have much to offer anyone at this point. I realized today that I stood someone up on Friday night and I'm disappointed but that's the way it always seems to work out. I put work and work and work first before anything else, and I put off the little things such as eliminating the vines that are choking the southwest corner of my roof. 

People walk past and I sit here and watch the patrons at the diner next door to me while the candidates address the current situation in my community and the difficult conversations we may or may not be having. I am not the interviewing type anymore. I watch the river of humanity go by and age on the shore waiting for the next flood that will forever change the banks.


Another potential last night at the Tavern

It's just after 10:30 and I'm slowly closing up the tavern. The sign on the door says we're open until 11:00 so I'm waiting a couple more minutes until I lock the door. We're close to the point where we close the place on Saturdays in the summer and once I close us up, that's it for this era of me working here. 

Sometimes when I think a second about this space I can imagine me here for the first few shifts I worked here as a server, making $2.13 an hour at lunch. This was in August of 2004. I'd left the full-time job I had in Charlottesville and I'd been sitting in my house doing nothing for two months. When the bottom fell out, this is where I landed. And I began to rebuild my life again.

And now I'm in a life that is full and filled with lots of activity, even though I'm not always certain that I'm in the right place. I believe there is something, or many somethings, that is not quite right at the moment. 

It's 11:02 and everything is done and I'm sitting at the bar having a shift beer and I think about all the times I am this spot as a customer and then I think about how special it is to be sitting here right now on another potential last night here. I don't know when I'll be here on a Saturday again. 

The next time I will work here will be for a private party. And then that makes my mind wander and wonder if this could be a post-wedding destination in the future. That's happened here before and if I think for a second, I can see all of the people I've made happy here in the past in this spot. This spot I love and care for and want to see shine in the future. 

Tonight I cooked 12 dinners and made a decent amount of money for a six hour shift. I'd rather be doing this work than catering because here I can try to build a clientele whereas catering is about becoming an ant and working with a crew to accomplish a series of tasks. 

I'd rather be here figuring out how to make pink lemonade, which I did tonight.

The first set of customers was a family of five from Alexandria who were visiting and somehow stopped in here. Two adults and three little kids, and I got their food prepared quickly and they had a good time, I think. It filled me with joy to see a family come in here, and I loved that they played with the games I've brought in over the years and that they actually played with the Lego!

I like to make people happy and content. There's maybe a conflict between this job and my day job.

So who knows what will happen next? The world can be strange and there definitely seem to be more changes than usual about the world around us. I just know that for tonight I had another great time working at the tavern and I hope for many more.


In this room at the Omni

2017 had not happened yet the last time I was in the ballroom at the Omni. I was here with my American children for First Night and there was a magician we had seen at least twice year. I was incredibly happy to be here with them.

I've been in this large rectangular space so many times over the last 15 years ever since I moved to Charlottesville, every time as a guest. This is one of the only rooms in town where I've never been a catering server, but every time I am in here I am interested in the logistics of how they do their work. 

I've been to many banquets, many speakers and I've had a lot of fun and a bit of sorrow here. I'm struck by how little I want to say about any of it, this being a public blog and all.Much of my life shouldn't be out there.

Yet this is space where I decide to hit send and decide to once again commit my random thoughts about a dastardly world outward. Maybe I have something to say, I think, as I listen to the murmur of the breakfasting crowd I breathe in for a moment and begin to reflect upon what I might have to say. 

In this room at the Omni I remember who I am and choices I have made and I imagine who I might become.