Saturday, 28 July 2018

Day 91: Dive bars

3am and 20 degrees, slowly broiling in this bedroom at the top of the house. Both Velux windows are thrown wide, but the thick night air brings no respite from the heat. Home from a late close, understaffed, the kind of shift you set your jaw, stop hoping, stop hating, just grind it out. Time feels like it won't go but it will go, you know it will, you've done this before, just put your head down and watch it pass. Another tray of glasses. Another. Another. Never mind that you're too old for all this, that they pay you nothing, that you're bored to death. Do the tray of glasses. Do them the best you can. And another. And one after that. Suffering is a teacher, you just have to be willing to learn.

Day staff are still drinking in the beer garden, call and joke when you go to collect glasses. They're inside something and want you to enter as well. But you're on the outside, tired, stressed, and you can only reply in monosyllables, turn your body from them, smile awkwardly, walk away. But then come closing they rise and scurry back and forth with tables and chairs, ashtrays and glasses, get it all cleared in minutes, good little worker ants. They go right on scurrying, when there are no more tables they go for you, lift you, by arms and legs, try to carry you off to the next bar. You let them take you halfway down the square. They chant your name, shout that they love you, then hurry away into the night. You watch them go. They're so young. Off swaying into dive bars, stouts and whiskies, bad karaoke, then off down streets and alleys, through moonlit parks, spliffs on hills as the sun comes up. Then bed until the evening, then a bar shift and start again.

That was me not long ago, still desperately searching for a glimmer of the beauty in the nighttime madness, for peace and meaning at 4am.

Now I'm content to sit alone and tap out these words, then do my teeth, do my stretches, and get up tomorrow for it all again.

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