I seem to be back from the coast. The south coast. Of Lake Erie. Ben and Joe (barely) flew in from New York, I came in from Pittsburgh, and we all rendezvous-ed with Shal in his newish, possibly semi-permanent home. The night before, driving a Korean rental car upstate, I watched the aggressively uniform landscape of Ohio (is any part of this state uninhabited?) kind of give way to the sprawling, post-industrial mass bisected by river that is the greater Cleveland area. We spent most of time sprawling ourselves: in next-to-back row seats of a tight Indians/Yankees game, in corners of the kind of bars that pull you in with a seven thousand beer menu and keep you there with a Labatt special, and of course on Shal’s living room floor, where approximately one thirtieth of his media collection still fills an entire bookshelf two rows deep. Cleveland is a good place to hang out.
Then I got on the same United States Route 80 of my daily commute and drove East out of the state of Ohio and towards the state of squalor. I was headed to State College, Pennsylvania, where Danny was about to complete his last week ever of studying at the state college in question in a fantastically shitty shell of a house (further ravaged from a party the weekend before). At this point, studying is the generous description of what he does there, though we did wake up at 9:30 AM, after a night of watching DVDs in his warm bedroom, and slashed though a thicket of Ugg boots into middle campus to learn about monopoly. Later on, we went out with his friends to the kind of bars that pull you in with their $5 pitchers of bottom shelf liquor and keep you there because you are not physically free to leave. It was fun and it all made miss college. But not that much.
I completed my five hundred mile circle on PA Route 22 West, where central Pennsylvania transforms to western Pennsylvania via the Altoona Valley. Freight trains still do things like chug up proud green hills and cross sturdy steel truss bridges here. Once in Pittsburgh, I tried to make the most of my time there by visiting PA’s superior state college, eating a kielbasi fried pirogi sandwich, pinball, and meeting up with Stef and Alicia, who spend less on their new mortgages than what I’m thinking about spending on a studio space. As Alicia’s pup was licking my face over a distracted game of Guitar Hero, I thought, she’s got a pretty nice life.