Well, I'm back from Pitt. Did everything I had to do (which was little, just put the packages with the post-tests in the instructors' mailboxes) and then when to Mickey's.
I had the most amazing weekend. I think as cool as yours. Loved the story about the pigeons. We think the same in Colombia when a bird poos on you. I guess it has to do with that non-fatalist, day-by-day view of the world.
And this is what I did: I got in the car after class and drove straight to Pitt. It went on a blur because I was listening to Augusten Burroughs reading from his last book (very entertaining! I hope I can do that if we drive anywhere else for more than three hours. Time flies). So I go to Pitt, did the whole dissertation thing and headed to Monroeville to meet Mickey.
I couldn't believe how everything has changed. The cinemas to which I used to walk to go see a movie are gone. You have no idea how many Summer days I walked there to escape the apartment -downtown was an hour away- and how many movies I saw (cheap, it was matinee). But now it was all boarded up. Very sad.
I met Mickey at the Pier One on 22 (so appropriate) we walked around a little and then decided to go to his house (it's outside Pittsburgh, so we decided to have dinner and go to a movie near his house instead of Pittsburgh, so we wouldn't be driving around like crazy). We got on 76 and headed to his house. You wouldn't believe how different everything is ten minutes away from Pittsburgh. All trees and fields and lots of green. It's very pretty in the Summer.
We got to his brother's house, which at first sight is a nondescript house next to a pond. I learned later that the terrains belong to different people but I'm going ahead of myself. So I got all my stuff from the baby and headed for the house. It ended up being very spacious and Mickey and his brother have worked a lot on it. Mickey has his own gym with all those Solflexes and barbells and stuff. Very cool. Then we went upstairs, where there are still things being constructed -it's a work in progress- and where everything was very masculine, with touches of Americana here and there. Apparently the house belonged to an elderly couple and when the husban died, the kids sold the house. Or something like that. Same old, same old. Mickey and his brother have changed a lot of stuff and are still working on it. The surprise came when we walked to the back of the house, where they have totally built from scratch a whole addition. Very cool. Twelve feet high ceilings with skylights and wood. Bamboo floors, surround sound system and a pool table. With an ochre color on the walls. Very pretty. And then Mickey's room (where I slept) with its bathrrom and a loft over it (where Mickey slept and where he plans to put a futon and a computer). Very pretty. You'd love it.
We then left and went to eat (we eat mini-hamburguers at Ruby Tuesday in a Mall next to the theathers). It was cool. We shared, because as usual it was a ton of food. One thing though, is that I noticed that there is NOTHING around the Mall. It stands like a foreign territory, a sort of Switzerland where all this people who live in the middle of nowere go to buy their stuff. It's incredibly isolated and full of little hamlets of seven houses and a drugsotre (with seven churches thrown in for good measure) and a traffic light. When it's not only some houses scattered alongside the road.
I have always been reluctanct to believe all those stories that writers tell of living in a small town, very Peyton Place-ish. But this was the real thing. It was frightening. Living in the middle of nowhere with a Mall as the only point of contact with civilization. That is why some people buy retail as a means to cleanse their souls. It's the only thing that may make them feel human. Oh, well. The usual Mall Rats (another concept foreign to me until yesterday) where there. The pretty girls, the pretty boys, the goths, the freaks, the punks. All there. It was an ethnographic study waiting to happen. It was amazing.
We then went to see the movie. We decided agains the Omen (I'm a coward) and went to see A Praire's Companion, a Robert Altman movie about a dying live radio program. Funny! With magic realism touches and Meryl Streep and Lili Tomlin leading a bunch of good actors. We liked it.
We then returned to Mickey's house and I met his brother. Picture Mickey with thinning hair and a broader chest. With bigger hands and bluish eyes. And a few years more. A very nice fellow who I guess has not been around a lot of gay people (I took a look at his muusic collection: Garth Brooks and Telsa and ZZ Top and Sheryl Crow) who apparently loves Westerns and the Steelers. Very cool. Very real. He also likes science fiction, we were immediately hooked on Aeon Flux. I watched the whole thing once again. Ate lots of Oreo cookies and went to bed. My allergies kicked in (Mickey has a bunch of kitties living in his sunroom, so that may have helped) so I took a pill and went to bed.
On Saturday, we had a wonderful breakfast with fruit and set out to have lunch with Mickey's parents. but before we walked around the next door's pond. It's man-made but the whole water thing made me remember when I was a boy and would play for hours near anything with water. Very cool. Mickey also named most of plants we encountered and the birds we saw. He's a treasure of countryside living. I would probably get lost at the second turn and get poisoned after eating some pretty fruit.
Mickey's parents'farm is not too far from his brother's house and it's PRETTY! Beautiful plants all around the house that seem to have been there forever (his mum told me it took her twelve years to make it look like they whave been there forever) with little paths and nooks and crannies with little benches and flowers and wind chimes that make you wanna stay there and just breathe that wonderful air.
The house is impeccably clean and full of little details and family stuff. I got to see a lamp and a table that have been in the family for more that eighty years. Also pictures (wonderful, of Mickey's mum's mum and his dad's mum, too) and lots of family pictures and stories.
Mickey's mum is a wonderful lady, with a ready smile and Mickey's eyes. His dad is all legs and a clear voice and laughter and beautiful eyes. He was stunningly handsome when he was a child -we saw a picture- and has gone through a lot. Mickey told me that his mum and dad had a very difficult time when he was a child: his dad had an accident and was paralyzed. Doctors said he would never walk. The same vigorous man who was on a tractor when we got there, had lunch with us and was back on a tractor when we left. Wonderful story of courage and family love.
We also walked around the house and saw the little greenhouse, the cage where Mickey kept his pet rabbit and the horses. Oh, the horses. Wonderful animals. Imposing and tender. I can't believe how powerful they are. I have forgotten all about them.
We then went to see this riverside town that Mickey has visited many times. To my surprise, I discoverd that I had, too! I visited it a long time ago, when I have just came to the States and was living in West Virginia. Isn't this world a handkerchief? Adn the coincidence! We took pictures, walked around paths and enjoyed the scenery. BEAUTIFUL. We have to go and visit soon. You'd love it. I kept thinking about you and how you'd enjoy that peace and serenity. We walked around, took pics and read all the turist info. There was a hotel there, that people mobbed in the Summers before the advent of cars. The train tracks that took people there from all over PA (and beyond) are now walking and biking paths. But I can understand why people flocked there. We also visited a waterfall and walked around. I almost fell once. City boy that I am. I also felt very ... special? I was the only brown-skinned person in one hundred and seventy three miles around. I saw ONE African-American gentleman with his blonde, green-eyed wife and their daughter. And that was ALL. All afternoon. And that was the only person of color I saw all throughout the weekend. Not very diverse, that part of the state. Full of brawny, tanned blond boys and their equally blond girfriends, lots of Harley lovers in their bikes with their biker chicks.
We then headed back to have dinner in a quaint little restaurant (Leo's) where we ate wonderfully flavorful sandwiches. Very yummy. Kind of like the same kind of sandwich we ate at that restaurant near Chris's house. Delicious. We then went back to Mickey's house and watched the remain of a romantic comedy (I'm a sucker for those) and then went to bed. We woke up today and ate more fruit, watched a marathon of Queer as Folk (I borrowed the last season from one of the students who work in the office) and then I got here.
And that was my adventure over the weekend. I kept thinking that it was wonderful and that I want to go back soon. It's a wonderful life the life you live in the countryside. Secluded and quiet. A total change from the hustle and bustle of Pittsburgh or even Akron. For a change, I listened to nothing at night. Not a car, not a noise. Only crickets once in a while. I had a grand time. The one thing missing was you.