I was nine years old when “The Big Chill” came out. I remember adults talking about the film and getting nostalgic for their own younger days. I caught a few glimpses on the TV when I was supposed to be in bed, and to me it just seemed like a lot of old people having boring conversations. I have now aged enough to realize those actors were not old (well, at least I hope not since I am now relatively the age of the characters in the movie), and that a trip down memory lane can be a great time, so long as you don’t stay too long.
I spent the past weekend with some of my own “Big Chill” crew, visiting old haunts and reliving good times. I arrived in CO around 8pm. Two of my brothers, Chris and Casey, picked me up from the airport. Chris and Casey share a bachelor pad known as “Sizzle Manor.” Most people describe them like an old married couple. They bicker with each other constantly, but underneath the gruff façade, they could not live without one another. I think they are more akin to two halves of a coin. They look alike, they dress alike, they share the same sense of humor. I have always wished I possessed quick wit, but it seems that they somehow hoarded all the DNA for that characteristic. Hanging out with them is like being in a battle of one-liner showmanship. I adore them immensely.
We drove to Sizzle Manor to drop off my suitcase and wait for a taxi to pick us up for our night on the town (ok to drink, not ok to drive.) If you could somehow make a living as a professional drinker, they’d top the Forbes List. Mere moments after entering their domicile, I am offered a shot. I decline because I have been up since 5am, and want to at least make it to ten o’clock before passing out. Our taxi arrives and we head out to start the night.
We arrive at a bar called Super Nova. It has every vintage video game you’ve ever heard of and a few that you haven’t (Silk Worm?). Casey tries to teach me how to play some game where I was supposed to fly a helicopter and fire guns at enemy aircraft, but my undeveloped hand eye coordination ensured I was killed in about twenty seconds.
My friends Bob and Jen arrived. Meeting up with them is like seeing family- if your family is a bunch of strange folks you used to smoke pot with, followed by viewing an E! True Hollywood Story while painting on the walls. There was a time in my life when I used to hang out with them on a daily basis. Now, we exchange emails and meet up for an hour or two once every six months, but I am always in Mom mode. This night was like stepping into the way back machine, to a time before kids, before responsibility. After a few awkward moments, our former selves surfaced and synched. It was time to party.
Chris, Casey, Jen and myself did a customary toast to Calhan Alumni. We all survived high school in the same small town. Most people are a taken aback when they hear how miniscule our town was. I believe my graduating class was twenty two people. Growing up in an environment like that bonds you. There is no real way to divide into cliques. Sure there are outcasts and queen bees just like anywhere else, but with such a small population, you still see everyone at every gathering, forcing you to at least partially get along. On any given Saturday night, everyone in the high school is going to attend a game, go out drinking on a dirt road, and end up trying to get laid. That’s life in the sticks.
We decide that it is time to change location. I walk out with Bob to his car to hitch a ride to the next bar. On the way over, we listen to “It Just Might Be A One Shot Deal” by Frank Zappa. My nostalgia kicks into overdrive. Riding in a car with Bob listening to music is perhaps one of my favorite things to do in life. I know it is simple, but I think everyone has that friend that just gets you perfectly. We have taken many a road trip doing just what we were doing that night- bonding over our love for a song. In that moment, I wished we could just keep driving and talking, but we had arrived at our destination- the Black Sheep.
The Black Sheep is my bar home in Colorado Springs. When I was a kid, I remember asking my mom if she’d ever been to a concert. She told me she saw Ray Price once. I don’t know why, but I always associated going to concerts with being cool. When I had kids, I wanted to be able to tell them I had seen countless bands in concerts. The Black Sheep was and still is one of the only venues for live music in Colorado Springs. I’ve seen everyone from Testament to the Reverend Horton Heat to the Misfits there. Chris is now the sound engineer at the Sheep, which ensures that I get in for free and always know the bartenders.
I was back on my ol’ stomping grounds, as my dad would say, and it was time to kick it into gear. First round of shots gets ordered, and this is where the night starts to both hazy and incredibly fun. A Sublime tribute band was playing, which probably sounds like a form of torture, but was actually kind of fun. It added a mellow, feel good soundtrack to the night. We start snapping a few photographs to capture the moment, and this somehow leads to Casey trying to teach me how to mimic pro-wrestling moves for the camera. We shut the bar down, but not before I am on stage pretending to be a rock star leading the crowd in a rendition of some hit song. Yup, that happened. Every person I saw the next day made sure to whip out their phone and show a snapshot of me with a microphone in my hand, pointing at the non-existent crowd.
We head home, but the party is not over. Everyone heads inside Sizzle Manor for a few more cocktails. But by this time, I have reached my limit. After a few “I love you, man” speeches and an insistence on needing to do some sort of activity to bond us all together, I quietly fall asleep on the couch.
I wake up the next morning, and the first thing I do is call home. Kellen and Liam are excited to talk to me and tell me they are getting ready to go to the train park. Hearing their voices makes me want to hop on the next plane back to Arizona. My nostalgia changes directions and I yearn to be at home, cuddling them in my arms and kissing their faces.
It was great to time travel for a night. We all need a moment to relax, regroup, and recharge. Having the opportunity to go back allowed me to appreciate how far I have come. I look forward to another night with my way back crew, but for now, I’m just happy to be home.