Childhood Haunts

5/22/2011 – 5/23/2011

Bloomington, IN

It’s strange returning here. I remember so much so well and seemingly nothing has changed, except for the fact that everything has.

Despite my fantastic ability to get turned around, I always end up in the right spot. My gut stops me before I get too far and some of the random places I stop at are often just a block away from what I was actually looking for. In my constant search for wifi to look up directions, I went on a voyage for coffee houses in Bloomington. I narrowed my search to within a block or two of the campus, but couldn’t find anything besides Mexican food and bars so I just parked. I had just gotten out of the car and was about to ask directions when I saw that I was standing right in front of one. I had planned it that way, of course. I ambled in, ordered a hot chocolate, and went about looking up directions and uploading pictures. I have mostly avoided starbucks so this place was very much like Fairgrounds in Norfolk or the Grind in Williamsburg: a little hipster, a higher percentage of dreadlocks, a random assortment of comfy furniture, and walls just covered with everything from bizarre artwork to maps and stolen signs. Today I went searching for this coffeeshop again, but instead found a new one. It caught my eye from the road as its name was simply Rachael’s (spelled the correct way!!!). I made a u-turn, almost went the wrong way down a one-way street, and found a parking space. I walked in a little hesitatingly, the place was larger and more open than most coffee places so it looked a little empty, but the person at the counter ushered me forth. It turns out that Rachael is an incredibly nice transvestite. Her slim body sported a blue and white striped cotton tank top dress that ran down to her ankles and her expressive eyes and bright red lipstick, distracted me for a while from the adam’s apple and bulging muscles. I glanced at the menu, but hurriedly just asked for something cold. While she made me something called a chai (I really should be more up on my coffee lingo), we discussed the appropriate way of spelling Rachael, and how much more fun it is to spell it our way. She told me she was still looking for a middle name, and I told her that my own was Grace, but that I also had a friend who’s middle name was Elizabeth. The light from the huge road-side windows streamed into this otherwise underlit basement where the tables are huge, the couches are comfy, and the numerous dragons are quite shiny.

The past few days I visited some of my old haunts (or whatever it is that 7 year olds frequent) in Bloomington. My old house was still standing with the white picket fence my grandfather helped build, and I creepily took pictures as college students streamed in and out having apparently lost the keys to their truck. I walked the two blocks down Allen Street to the local Bryan Park. I sat on the swing where I had first learned how to pump my legs and fly through the air, watching the nearby basketball players and wishing I was still decent enough to even attempt to make a shot. I stared up at the clouds where balloon festivals used to litter the summer sky. I walked the 0.8 mile track where I first began my running career with Templeton Tiger Tracks. I walked another two blocks to my elementary school and saw the Tiger mascot I had pretended to help build with my art teacher. I drove down the road to the Chocolate Moose and ordered a chocolate-vanilla soft serve twist, specifically requesting that the cone have eyes, normally just reserved for children. Today I walked around the IU campus and found one of my favorite fountains (I think I used to have all the Bloomington fountains mapped out into an easily drivable route but alas this is the only one I came across). I strolled through the IU forest where I used to collect the fall leaves and I sat and read a book for an hour under the stain-glass gazebo I used to hide away in. I found a nearby stream that I could only imagine I must have played several rounds of Pooh Sticks in and stealthily climbed a nearby tree that stretched over the creek as picnicking IU students looked on.

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