Friday, August 12, 2005

Indiana jonesin'

Back in '96, I went see the film "Twister." There's a scene near the end, where a warm wind begins to blow as the leads stand out on the front lawn of a motel . I remember leaving the air-conditioned theater and stepping back into the hot July night, feeling a slight sense of nostalgia for that summer wind which blows in the Midwest (and in Sinatra songs) but not in muggy Japan. Last Wednesday, not thirty minutes after floating down over the Indy 500 raceway, I stepped out of the airport and for the first time in a decade, felt that same wind on my face. In the state where people seem built for comfort rather than speed, their accents doing terrible things to French words.

Marty and Eriko picked me up. I'd last seen them in September in Tokushima, where I'd done double duty at their wedding, both performing the ceremony and translating the speeches. As way of thanks, they bought me dinner at an Italian joint just off the highway. Marty had picked this place because he liked the way trees were growing from the roof. It was a great time, bouncing our ridiculous conversation around and around the table. In Columbus, I found my brother Eric waiting up. We chatted awhile, pausing occasionally to laugh at John Stewart or Cartman.

The next morning I chilled out, happy to have the first down time in two weeks. I didn't want to squander it, so I watched a DVD of "Dude, Where's My Car?" I also wrote long overdue emails, and tried to catch up on this blog (writing more because I feel I have to and not really want to, resulting in this stilted atrocious prose of late.) I also spent some time talking to Eric and Angie, both exhausted with baby Beck, born five weeks ago this day. So begins this initial phase of "house arrest", the first stage of an eighteen year sentence.

Eric is the track coach of one of the high schools and is currently in charge of a cross-country camp up at Brown County State park. I went up there with him the afternoon. When he set off with the boys for a humid eight mile slog, I jumped on the mountain bike and rode up and around the Park's gentle hills, hesitating at Hesitation Point to ogle Ogle Pond, then followed the mountain bile trails back down. The humidity here isn't quite Japan standards, but I was soaked just the same. Being a huge "Breaking Away" fan, I'd hoped for a swim in one of the local quarries, but was satisfied in finding a small above-ground pool in my brother's backyard. We swam around washing off sweat, talking about the frustrations of being a progressive in a small Midwestern town, the rain beginning to lightly fall from the same clouds I flew out of a day before in Denver.

Maura and Dave came by for dinner. They'd come to visit the 'Nog last fall. I later went back to their place, about a dozen miles out of town. It's quiet out there, isolated, and I'd hoped to hike around their land and startle some deer. It was Dave and I who found ourselves started, by a raccoon(probably) which ran across the roof behind us. We sat on the back deck in the dark, drinking Guinness and talking, mostly about Warrior Codes (inspired by Finn Mac Cool and the Irish beer connection) and their unfortunate absence in today's world. This led to the inevitable bitching about the Jones' and the Status Quo, a topic that comes up nearly every time we're together, carrying us far too late past bedtime.

Spent all day Friday out at Dave and Maura's place. The rain kept me indoors most of day, so I watched old school stuff on DVD, namely the pilot episode of Kung Fu and the always hilarious Reefer Madness. I also sat on the porch in the hammock, reading and watching the rain drive birds closer and closer to the house. Between chapters, I'd squint my eyes and try to align the slats of the deck with the stripes on the lawn, now slightly off-color from recent mowing. A dozen meters or so from my swinging head was the frame of a barn in the midst of construction. It was a shame about the rain because I'd been looking forward to seeing the bearded workmen sing Amish songs as they hammered, and their womenfolk praise God as they whipped up a fine lunch. When the sun came up and the grass dried, I finally made it onto the trails. Dave returned about then, so we drove back to town to pick up pizza. At the drive-up window, I was surprised to see Angie's brother. (Would he be my brother-in-law?) He handed us four pies rather than the two we'd ordered. (Thanks guy!) Back at Eric and Angie's, Eriko and Marty dropped by, and we all ate and drank and watched the remake of "The Italian Job" (There it is again).

On the turntable: Jack Johnson at Bonnaroo '02
On the nighttable: Chang-Rae Lee, "Aloft"

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