Of Pizza and Beer and Songs and Darkness and Change

Last night, after a 13-hour, 656 mile marathon trip to retrieve boxes and assorted other stuff we left behind in storage, we had dinner at Charlie’s Pizza Pub, which I learned from its Facebook page moved to its “new old location” early this year.  I don’t know from whence it moved…and it really doesn’t matter.

We ordered a super special or some such deluxe beast, which came covered with pepperoni, sausage, onions, and who knows what else.  It was very good, with a crisp crust and a nice ratio of sauce to cheese.  I asked the waiter if they have dark beer; he responded by saying they have Stella Artois, Blue Moon, 312, and a few others.   I asked about IPAs and his face betrayed utter confusion.  And he had no clue about dark, but seemed like a nice kid despite that character flaw.

We arrived at the place just about the time the karaoke started in the room behind the bar (which was, thankfully, not immediately adjacent to where we sat). The vast majority, and possibly all, of the participants in the karaoke were young.  The first woman on stage was in her early twenties, I’d guess, and had an extraordinarily good voice.  I didn’t know the music (it was country), but she sang it exceptionally well.  Next up was a guy who sang a class rock song (the name of which escapes me now); he was decent, but was clearly an amateur in comparison to the woman who sang before him.  Near the end of our meal, a very young girl, maybe 8 or 9 years old judging from her voice (I never saw her) delivered two songs; I cannot judge her singing talents, because the voices of kids that age clearly haven’t developed to the point of being “good” or “bad.”  But from what I heard, my money would be on a career outside the music industry.

Driving home from the pizza pub in the dark reminded me just how different our lives will be here compared to Dallas.  For one I must emphasize “dark.”  Our car’s headlights had little competition in illuminating the road in front of me; and it was rare to see any other lights along the roadside.  The darkness, sharply rolling hills, and twists & turns of the roadway are distinct departures from the bright, flat, straight streets of Dallas.

Our first night here (the night before), we went for an early dinner at a restaurant on a lake, a place on the far end of the village, and headed back to the condo in the pre-dark dusk.  Just as we came over the crest of a hill, a deer darted out from the forest on the right side of the road; I was driving rather slowly, which is a good practice here at that time of day, and so was able to brake and give the deer ample time to cross the road without being attacked by a Japanese car. I’m told there are a lot of deer around here; I don’t doubt it in the least.

Until we close on our house and move in, I won’t feel like we’re really settled here.  For reasons that are more psychological than practical, I do not plan to attempt to “engage” with people here until we become official residents.  But we have about three weeks (if all goes well) to learn the lay of the land and get familiar with our new lifestyle here until then.

Later this month, we’re told, a newcomer’s meeting is scheduled to acquaint people with the community and what it offers.  That’s an element of welcoming hospitality I think was common in years past, even in neighborhoods in crowded cities, but which has essentially died out in most places.  I like that sort of welcoming hospitality; we will most certainly attend the meeting.

 

About John Swinburn

"Love not what you are but what you may become."― Miguel de Cervantes
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5 Responses to Of Pizza and Beer and Songs and Darkness and Change

  1. Thanks Robin. Clay, I will be careful and will adjust gradually. Juan, thanks for the compliment. Juan, I remember the times when I drove from Austin to Corpus while I was attending college, typically leaving late in the evening and arriving in CC in the wee hours. Like you, I remember the long stretches of darkness, utter darkness, where the only light was from the stars. Recently, when I was in Big Bend, I was reminded of those dark drives; the long stretches of flat, straight roads were a lot like those of south Texas. Here, the hills are steep and the roads curve; a little like south Texas on drugs!

  2. juan says:

    Man, I so love these lines from you on this last post of yours:

    “Our car’s headlights had little competition in illuminating the road in front of me; and it was rare to see any other lights along the roadside. The darkness, sharply rolling hills, and twists & turns of the roadway are distinct departures from the bright, flat, straight streets of Dallas.”

    I wish I had written those words.

    * * * * * * *

    I’m out of South Texas, so those long distances without lights are something familiar to me. Your story made me think of a starry night driving in Georgia, not long ago.

    It must have been maybe 2 am, 2010, driving through Georgia (to meet this one woman I met through “Harmony.Com), that I felt this odd feeling I had been here before, but I could not figure it out.

    … it came like some mosquito’s mmmmeeeaaaa that lit me, bit me….then flew away before I could nail it … then came back to bite me again!

    Then it came on me like a “swat!” … “no lights! The only lights were the stars (“Draco the dragon” was in the East). There were no lights” … not for miles and miles and miles. Only stars. I remember being surprised that a space in Georgia would bring back Texas to me. It was like driving through Cotulla or near Victoria.

    John:

    You may have to make a separate space in your blog for “Arkansas Observations of People.”

    Tell us your observations of “the people” (or at least email me separate on that partner). I’m curious about Arkansas people. Are they like hill-billies (whatever that means)? The only hillbillies I know are the “Beverly Hillbillies.” Remember that program?

    We only know from stereotypes — or at least curmudgeons like me who travel as little as possible.

  3. robin andrea says:

    Sounds like a nice place to explore and settle into. Looking forward to reading about your adventures.

  4. Watch out for those deer. Drive mostly in daylight hours. Remember that you are a stranger there and will be for some time. But enjoy the new ambience.

  5. juan says:

    Great piece, John!

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