Chapter 36: A Feeling That I Belonged



Chapter XXXVI: A Feeling That I Belonged

The next morning, I was bound and determined to officially have a bus ticket. I woke up and performed all the appropriate means necessary this time; checked the bus schedule, memorized all of the routes, and did all of the requirements that responsible people do to avoid all the predicaments that I often find myself. Also, I finally took the proper means to charge everything that was dead—my computer, my phone, and my mp3 player; sad that these things have become essential to life these days.

Once upon a time, I had compared and contrasted my attitudes towards life with that of a man named Lorenzo Law who I worked with at the VA; I have since channeled this exact same comparison with Rachael Ray and that is why she has become an infatuation of mine. Lorenzo was always positive, always cheerful, and always said kind things to everybody. On one occasion, he stood in line in the cafeteria for 10 minutes and paid for everybody’s breakfast who passed through the line at that time.

Needless to say, I have never done any such thing and am frequently bothered by various issues plaguing me. The noticeable differences on the outside were that he was a bit older than I and he was black (for those of you who are uncertain, I am white; that should clear up a few mysteries.) Due to the virus of American Society called racial discrimination, one might suspect that he would have a more challenging bout with oppression than me. However, he had a way better job than I did and was never harassed by the police. After I talked to him, he told me that he had only been pulled over by the police one time in his life and never had a parking ticket. He had never had an overdraft fee from his bank, his products in his home worked fine, and seemed completely void of needless hassles.

Therefore, I set a goal for myself to be exactly like Lorenzo—to the extreme that I was probably the only person on Earth who irritated him. It was temporarily offset when I got what I considered an unjust parking ticket, and this came after a weird night in which my car was hit and run and there were a multitude of other annoyances working against me. I thought to myself, “Why the fuck doesn't anybody ever give Lorenzo a ticket?” How does he avoid all of this shit? Especially with him being a black man in Cincinnati, you would think the police would constantly harass him and not me.

Immediately after I got the ticket, I was annoyed with the entire human race. I was going through a phase where I hated the world and was plotting the demise of the government. Just for the hell of it, I approached Lorenzo and told him about the ticket just to see his response. He did not take my side on the issue whatsoever. Rather, his “luck” had nothing to with luck because he took all of the appropriate steps necessary in order to avoid all of these predicaments. Lorenzo adamantly told me that I should have looked for the signs, I should obey the speed limits, I should research all of the laws, and take that extra minute to study what it is that I am trying to do.

That was probably the first time Lorenzo ever spoke harshly to anybody. After that, before approaching a situation, I would think to myself beforehand, “What would Lorenzo do?” Sometimes I lose focus on that task, but I still draw influence from Lorenzo whenever I find myself in an odd situation. Should this story have been written by Lorenzo, it would consist of one paragraph, and that is the above paragraph where I actually did something moderately intelligent. Ideally, I would have snapped a photograph of Lorenzo Law and kept it with me at all times. However, should his car need repairs, we has the required funding to perform all maintenance... I have never had such "luck" and have driven on bald tires with blackened oil.

Finally, the damn mother fucking bus station was open, just as it would have been for Lorenzo because he wouldn't have kept coming back while they were closed. I was concerned the tickets to Milwaukee would be sold out because the internet stated they only had one ticket remaining, and fortunately it was still there. That was that, my bus left at 9:00 PM; it would be an overnighter that would take over 20 hours.

It finally warm enough outside to where I wasn’t downright miserable. The sun was shining, mild wind, and it was over 50 degrees. This temperature would be considered a miraculous Indian Summer in Milwaukee and all of the white girls would be outside promenading in crop tops and short skirts. While it does get cold in Asheville, especially compared to other places in the south, it climbs into moderately warmer temperatures periodically as well.

Since it was now officially my last day in Asheville, I decided to walk back to downtown from the bus depot—I was not willing to press my luck with the bus any further. This time I was able to walk through the tunnel with good music and that heightened my perspective on everything. Of the 6 billion people living on Earth, I am 100% convinced that I rank in the top 3 in terms of who makes the best playlists. As I was heading downtown, the scenery of the city finally hit me again—this was a beautiful city. Something in my head told me that now would be the day to give that mock tour of the city to all of my imaginary friends.

I strolled downtown in its complete entirety while narrating all of the highlights. This was finally an ordinary day in downtown Asheville. The streets were crowded with all sorts of unique people everywhere. I made an effort to walk down every street, point out all of the sights, and take notice to the wide variety of different people who populate the city. Television has no influence here and there are very few people here enamored with the conventional white people that the TV is attempting to deem as idealistic life—the type of white people that would be so easily impressed that they would be will to shell out thousands of dollars for a small piece of jewelry in order to purchase compatibility.

Summertime in Asheville

At one corner, I thought to myself, here, this is Asheville.

There was a band playing on the corner of the street. In Milwaukee or Cincinnati, this would be considered an extravagant attraction. Summertime in Asheville, there is a band on every corner. When I lived here, I paid it no attention; now I realized how unique it was. That’s another one of my traits: not realizing something is genuinely superb until after it is too late. It wasn't just somebody playing an acoustic guitar; this was a 6 piece unit of ragged looking musicians with some resemblance to Old Crow Medicine Show. Maybe at one point I actually considered them irritating, but this time around, they looked appealing playing on the corner. The people of Milwaukee would be astounded if these people showed up on Water Street. To Milwaukee’s credit though, I do believe that it would be well-received. Milwaukee is itching to develop unique qualities, and it is fun. They could prosper greatly should they draw some influence from what actually is Beer City USA.

Countless memories strolled though my brain with each and every of the number of places I passed. It was amazing just how many fond memories I accumulated just from having lived here for two short years. When I was living here, I actually felt like I was a part of something. Even though it is not my preferred style of music, Fast Car by Tracy Chapman became somewhat of a theme song for the line, “I had a feeling that I belonged; I had a feeling that I could be someone.”

My personal highlight of the afternoon occurred while I was walking down Haywood and a beautiful woman gave me the flirtatious eye, smiled, and talked to me. For a brief period, I had re-Asheville-ized myself and felt cool again. It had been a long time since that happened. As a matter of fact, I was receiving appealing looks all weekend and remembered that guys like me were at least a moderate commodity in Asheville—unlike Milwaukee.

Seriously, there is not one single woman even remotely interested in me in Milwaukee. It had reached the point where I not only lost confidence, but I also lost interest. Granted, some of this was attributed to when Jen and I broke up and I vowed that I was going to stay single for life. But, for the most part, women in Milwaukee give me dirty looks and some of them openly made fun of me. I’ll never forget the time when I was walking down Capitol Drive, minding my own damn business, and some girl jogging by just shoved me out of the way and kept going even after I hit the ground.

If a survey was conducted in Milwaukee asking women to rate me on a scale of 1 to 10, my average score would be about a 1.5. The girls in Milwaukee have no interest in skinny guys as they prefer beefy meatheads and that typical relationship endeavor where they guy should be much larger than the woman and make significantly more money. Many of them tend to view guys strictly for their money and I had heard numerous girls discuss how they still (in 2012) want to marry a guy with a good career. It’s a whole city full of women like my mom’s friend who prefer men who flash muscles or money. Because of that perception on how a relationship is “supposed” to consist, that limits my dating possibilities to crackheads.

Most women in Milwaukee think that I am weird, and we do not share too many similar interests. Also, they claim I speak with a shitty southern accent, although several have stated that I look British—whatever the fuck that means. Living in Milwaukee, it would be highly doubtful that I would ever have another girlfriend for the rest of my life. It was that bad and had reached the point where I purposely ignored every person I passed; I rarely spoke to anybody and would go out of my way to avoid contact with people I feared might speak to me.

At least in Asheville, the women value independent thinking. If the same aforementioned survey were conducted here, my rating would jump significantly all the way up to 3.5 out of 10. Although still not that great of a rating, it at least provides some hope that my next endeavor with a woman will not be addicted to heroin. Here, I am not considered weird at all; my taste in music and movies is not “fucked up” as it is commonly considered in other places.

While making my final trip around Asheville, I coincidentally ran into Kelly who was walking to work. I walked with her to her job and had lunch with her. Although I wasn’t super hungry—I had just eaten fairly recently (God damned Waffle House again) but figured I would join her. She went to Circle in the Square Pizza—another place I liked back in the day. It proved to be a good thing for me to have a slice of pizza. Since I am such a nice person, I bought her lunch for all of her hospitality—even though I hardly saw her because she was working.

My new source of spiritual inspiration came from an unexpected random source. We saw a performer on a street corner that had the skills to do everything that I always wished that I was capable of doing. Friends, co-workers and my regular customers know how obsessed I am with trying to accomplish feats that would be downright astounding. I always said that I could juggle beer flights while riding a unicycle without even spilling one drop of beer (in actuality, I can’t juggle anything.) Also, while washing all of the knives that was a required closing duty at the bar I worked, I jokingly told people that I could juggle knives, do impressive feats such as throw all the knives up in the air and catch them with my teeth, and constantly fantasized about new and impossible tricks to perform with our knife selection. In actuality, I can’t do any of that shit.

I can juggle 5 of these while riding a unicycle without spilling a drop.

The performer had a multitude of various items aligned in a nice circle on the corner. For a small fee of $1 plus tips, a person could select three of them. A child in the audience selected the aluminum baseball bat, a tennis racket, and a rusty hatchet. The ultimate badass of The Universe proceeded to juggle all three items and even performed tricks with them. One pedestrian felt unsafe standing on the corner and ran away. I thought to myself: “THIS is who I need to learn from; this is my role model in life.”

When she left for work, we had made arrangements that we were definitely going to get a place together. I told her that I had to go back to Milwaukee to pack and all that other boring ass shit. She insisted that she would pick out whatever place she wanted and I would move in; Mary would possibly be living with us too. Also, the other roommate in which was creating problems stole Mary’s last two beers, and I was going to replenish them for her as a token of gratitude to her. I am such a nice fucking guy.

I took one more walk around town, and bid it farewell. In actuality, I did not want to leave. At the same time, I needed to be at my own home… but I wished that was here instead of there. While I’m wishing in one hand, I would also like some of my friends that I accumulated from various places to move here too. And, I would now have the resolution to all of the problems troubling me at the current time. It could be done in Asheville, because this is the one place in the world where a person can totally be his/herself… no matter whom that is.

Index: Chapter List

Chapter 36 Soundtrack Listing:

1. Tracy Chapman
"Fast Car" 4:57

Tracy Chapman

2. The War on Drugs
"I Was There" 3:50

Slave Ambient

3. Captain Beefheart
"Bluejeans & Moonbeams" 5:02

Bluejeans & Moonbeams

4. Johnny Nash
"Hold Me Tight" 2:43

Hold Me Tight

5. Punishment of Luxury
"Laughing Academy" 5:02

Laughing Academy

6. Van Morrison
"Fair Play" 6:18

Veedon Fleece

7. Straitjacket Fits
"Down In Splendour" 3:39


8. Kitchens of Distinction
"Quick As Rainbows" 3:49

Strange Free World

9. Cocteau Twins
"Heaven Or Las Vegas" 4:57

Heaven Or Las Vegas

10. The Helio Sequence
"Sassafras" 6:35

Com Plex

11. Rickie Lee Jones
"Pirates (So Long Lonely Avenue)" 3:56


12. Intercooler
"If You'd Seen" 4:44

Old School Is The New School

All Sections Written, Designed, and Music Compiled by Tony J. Neal

Asheville Image courtesy of:  Blue Ridge Impressions
Beer Flight image shared from:  Humphrey's Farm


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