I owe you some stories from the first week, I know. I'll get to that later, though.
Feeling sick of my small (and spartan) apartment, I wander around town tonight, looking for something to do. I'd felt a bit too much of a stranger, just wandering downtown the past few days... Most of downtown just seems a bit too upscale for me — at least, on a night like tonight — so I go a bit off the beaten path: downtown, but not quite the city center. I stumble upon the Empyrean Coffee House, this little coffee shop / bar / music venue just a few blocks from where I live...
Really reminds me of the places I used to hang out at back home. You know, the Blue Fugue, or Lakota, or the Cherry Street Artisan... Soulful music — and by that I mean your smalltime touring musicians and local artists — really nice people, and a little artsy/cultured/counterculture (that's a weird mix, I know) feel to the establishment.
I walk up to the bar and get myself a beer. One man at the bar immediately notices the St. Louis Cardinals hat I'm wearing.
"Hey man, nice hat."
"I love baseball. Nobody up here really seems to; hell, my bandmates usually give me crap for it, always talking about how boring it is."
The man's name is Luke — he'd played here solo earlier tonight, as part of a little tour he's doing through the Northwest. He lives in Montana but cheers the Cardinals because his folks all live in St. Louis. We shoot the shit as time passes by: his folks have season tickets, he watched one of the playoff games against the Mets back during that year we won the World Series...
"So where in St. Louis are you from?" he asks me.
"Florissant, that's up in North County."
"I know where that is, that's actually where my folks live."
"On Lindbergh somewhere. I used to visit them every summer."
"Wow. I live right off New Halls Ferry, at the north part of the town."
He mentions hanging out at Jamestown Mall throughout his summers, until he "got beat up there one day." This is the same ol' ghetto Jamestown Mall that I grew up going to, where I got to know some of my closest friends today. Which leads us to a conversation on the whole place becoming a hole and the white flight problem all over St. Louis.
...At some point I mentally remind myself that I'm in Spokane, Washington — I'm nowhere near Missouri. But strangely enough, it's like home followed me straight out here, over a thousand miles away. This was a natural conversation that could've easily happened in Columbia, at any random bar over there. Every other person over there is from St. Louis. Right now? I'm in Washington. This is something else entirely.
He tells me he's heading though the Midwest in September, and I mention that he should stop by Columbia if given the chance (and name drop the Fugue). He's played in Columbia before, a few years back.
I churn through another beer and before I know it, the place is about to close. (I've come to notice that most places I frequent near here seem to close at like 11pm at the very very latest.) We part ways and I wish him the best as he continues touring.
I get home and I smile at the irony: the first random bar conversation I have in Washington is with a guy who knows where Florissant is and who used to hang out at Jamestown Mall — the places of my youth. The odds of such a thing are near-miraculous.
I guess I've found a place to frequent in Spokane. Such grand irony cannot be ignored.