Wednesday, May 12, 2010


We go to dinner at a restaurant on the road up Mount Killington to its ski lifts. This ugly tourist road. I have been seeing it as I drive by in the daytime – a violent slash up the lower part of this still, despite bars and restaurants, somewhat green mountain, that becomes less green further up with all its violent ski trail slashes. When Peter had first been in Rutland, which was after his divorce in the city, he had been living in a very old commercial travelers hotel, filled with sixties kids and vagabonds, in the middle of town. He had worked as a busboy on the Killington road at a place called The Wobbly Barn, which was a very sixties bar-restaurant-night club where everyone was on drugs or drunk or both, right here in rural new England. I had driven up one weekend in 1970 with his stepbrother Jason, and so knew the drug and booze part as an insider. And now after Peter’s years in AA, his achievements in writing, his time as director of a state alcoholism clinic, his years doing PR for the Vermont state Fair, now a certified citizen, married again, married as well as published. Back now on the Killington road. Peter, his current wife Julie and I are here not at the Wobbly Barn, though it still exists. Instead we are in a dark restaurant with a Swiss or German motif eating rubber shrimp and salad made of wilted leaves, the kind of place that has sad stuffed animal heads on its wall, also a fireplace with flames coming from a gas jet behind in a fake log.

I keep excusing myself to go outside and breath the mountain air, breath deep, remembering who I am and why I am here, wanting to get in every moment of mountain time. Remembering mountain nights in the deep past with this cool air that already in August has the long winter in it.

Remembering actual time in mountains in the past – summers in northern New Hampshire with air so like this air outside the restaurant – mountains in other places – Slovenia and Turkey and northern Borneo, that had this air too. And remembering how I have this year been going over past times, stepping into the deepest parts of the past – the parts I had thought at every stage were not worth even thinking about.

It is like death to me inside that grim restaurant, while here outside in moonlight is the possibility of anything I want. I wonder if I am not just riding on Peter and Julie’s life up here, and I am getting increasingly impatient. And I think of the ridiculous transactional therapy with which he and Julie and all their friends are involved. And that they joined a study group devoted the Road Less Traveled, as if it were revealed scripture (not that I believed in any scripture). And they make fun of their cat for being so fat – like the way a schoolyard bully might make fun of a fat kid. And the morning of Julie’s 50th birthday a few days ago Peter was making fun of her for being eligible to join AARP. I am building up a case against my old friend, almost as if he is one of the villainous people of my past whom I now verbally attack.

I want to stay out here in the August mountain cool, look at the upper reaches of Killington in the moonlight, look at the moon. It is hard to breathe inside.

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