Monday, April 26
I don't know whether to be amused or horrified.
At 3:11 Friday morning, I stumble out of some strange dream to realize that my phone is ringing. Alan explains that their car has broken down on the way back from a Ben Folds show, stranding himself and an unspecified set of friends in Council Bluffs. Realizing that I have far too much to get done before I can leave for Iowa and college ultimate frisbee sectionals, I tell Alan to call me back if he can't get ahold of anyone else.
Somewhere around 8:00, my alarm goes off and I wake up with severely jumbled memories. It seems just this side of likely that Alan actually did call me back, and that I fell asleep instead of throwing on some clothes and heading for the car. I stand in the living room and contemplate this for a while, then (instead of checking the call log on my cell phone, or remembering that if I were going to drive to Council Bluffs, I probably would have asked for directions) call Alan and wake him up.
After we establish that the second phone call never, in fact, occurred, I take a shower and think dark thoughts about the subjectivity of experience and the banality of my dreams.
Saturday night in Decorah, Iowa. Besides sectionals, it's prom night. Every room in town, but one, is booked. The better part of the team has crammed into that one room, along with years of fossilized cigarette smoke and four games worth of sweat. When I left, a Die Hard sequel was on television and no one had spoken in whole minutes.
I am in a minivan in the parking lot, trying to sleep on a bench seat. There is rain on the metal roof. Charter buses keep pulling in and out. Or maybe it is only one charter bus. I think about how when I was a little kid I would go outside and sit in one of the vehicles during a shower, just to watch the rain and hear that sound. Between parked cars, tall trees, and grain bins at sunset, I think I was more in touch with the contemplative life when I was twelve.
Decorah is built on and around a set of tree-covered bluffs. The terrain reminds me a little of Fayetteville. There're a Lutheran college and a lot of little businesses with self-consciously Norwegian names. The Wal-Mart looks small and old. What we have seen of the campus is appealing, and likewise the downtown, in a subdued way. Still, it's hard to escape the sense of too many Lutherans, too much of the wrong kind of quiet that I couldn't handle any more in small town Nebraska.
I keep thinking about how Greg Brown lives somewhere in this state.
Sunday night in Lincoln, Nebraska. Too tired to write, I drink beer with John and Levi. We talk about Zionism and neoconservatism, and about grad school and girls and getting published and just getting the hell out of Nebraska. When I finally make my way to a computer there are e-mails from Iraq and England and Missouri and North Dakota.
I don't really know how to respond to any of them.