Despite this year being what it was, there were little pockets of normalcy. Even enjoyment, if I may be so bold. There was plenty of anxiety, panic, confusion, and even desperation at the beginning. “Do we have to wipe everything down from the grocery store? Like set up a table in the garage and assembly line the boxes of Kraft Mac and Cheese, Barilla penne pasta, and box of Triscuits for antibacterial wiping?” But despite all of that I had a few, dare I say, moments of enjoyment.
Here they are, in no particular order.
Beer Run To Grainger, Indiana
One of the things I found enjoyment in this year was beer. Not drinking everyday to avoid the horrors that waited outside, but just venturing out and trying local brews from local craft breweries. It was something to scratch that OCD itch. Kind of an adult Easter Egg Hunt, but instead of eggs it was pints of IPAs.
At the end of April my wife and I took an afternoon drive up north an hour or so to Grainger, Indiana to Bare Hands Brewery. We’d gone there back in September of 2019 for lunch, prior to a Marching Band competition. The paninis were fine, but the Mom and Dad IPA I had was amazing. Since then I’d wanted to go back and try something else. I’d read that they were open for carry-out, with pick ups at a window at the restaurant, so the wife and I jumped in the car and made our way up there.
It was an overcast day, but we didn’t care. We hadn’t gotten away from the house just the two of us in forever, so grey clouds weren’t gonna ruin the road trip. We hit the brewery right around 2pm and I grabbed two 4pks of pint cans, one being their Westy IPA and the other the Honey Badger IPA. Afterwards we grabbed a couple sandwiches through the drive-thru and made our way back home.
And as Supertramp once suggested, we took the long way home.
Heading To Sweetwater For Drum Supplies
This was early on in the quarantine. I’d taken the week of my oldest’s spring break off so we could hang out and do things. Turned out there would be nothing to do as by that week in March Indiana was going to complete lockdown except for essential workers. The weekend before that week off my son had said he’d like to buy a new cymbal, drum heads, and a few other supplies for the drum set in the studio. One to support my kids endeavors in the arts, I said let’s do it. Sweetwater was still open with mask mandates in place, so we placed an order online and hit the road to pick it up.
I’ve always loved music stores. Even when I was a teenager my uncle would take me to Woodwind and Brasswind in South Bend to look at guitars, drums, effects pedals, keyboards and recording equipment. I caught the music bug early. First place I drove outside of my hometown when I got my drivers license was South Bend to State Line Road and peruse guitars I couldn’t afford on my burger flipper salary.
Sharing that love of music with my son is a pretty special thing for me, and those trips to Sweetwater are always a great thing. A great memory early in the year for sure.
New Guitar For Troubled Times
A new guitar is a special thing. There are certain guitars I’ve gotten in my life that have meant a great deal to me, and unfortunately I’ve sold a good portion of them. I still have my very first electric guitar, a Fender Squier Stratocaster I received from my parents for my 14th birthday. I still have my Rickenbacker bass I bought back in 1994. And my Ovation nylon string I bought myself my senior year of high school. But I sadly have none of my Rickenbacker 6-strings, or the tobacco burst Fender American Strat my wife bought me on a trip to Indianapolis. Or my faded Brown Gibson Les Paul I bought in 2004.
So now when I buy a guitar I make it count. I’ve got a tight crew of six-strings; my coveted J Mascis Squier Jazzmaster, a vintage modified Squier Mustang, and the newest is a beautiful green Epiphone Les Paul. I saw it back in February and it caught my eye. I mentioned it to my wife and she said “Buy it.” When you wife tells you to buy a guitar you don’t second guess or question it. You just do it. And I did it.
One of the things I started doing regularly this year was taking walks with my son. We typically hit a paved trail about 15 minutes from our house, near an elementary school. It borders the playground and a woods, so it feels like you’re in the middle of nowhere. Those walks were great because the entire time walking we’re talking about comic books, movies, music, and whatever came to mind. At home we talk, too, but being out in the summer heat with no distractions opens the conversations up to go wherever. We also used these walks as an excuse to get him driving. Even before he got his learners permit I had him out driving in the country. He took to driving right away, and when he’s driving himself to school next year he’ll be the coolest dude in a 17-year old Honda minivan.
I’m hoping we can continue those walks for years to come. I know it not only helped me physically, but it helped me mentally as well. Walking and talking felt like a form of therapy. And in a year like the one we’re getting ready to exit, therapy was sorely needed.
Brown County Vacation
For the most part we stayed put this year. No big trips or gatherings. I mean, it was the smart thing to do. Our only big trip was to Nashville, Indiana for an October getaway. We’d planned it early on, way back before we knew what this year was going to be. We felt pretty safe in still going, mainly because we were going to be isolated in a woods for four days, just four of us and the dog. That’s pretty much what it was, too. We ate, we walked thru the woods, we went to Bloomington one day, Nashville another day, and got sushi with our oldest one day as well. The weather wasn’t great, and the cabin we stayed in wasn’t the cleanest we’ve rented, but it was nice to get away from the hometown and work for a week.
Music, Books, Movies
Those three things are what got me through this year the most. They were portals to other places where I didn’t have to obsess over what was happening in the outside world. From the virus to politics to social unrest, it was information overload and a doom n gloom shit show all around. Diving into an album or book or film was a place to reset the brain clock and start over.
Those were the highlights of this year. What were some things that got you through 2020? What are some memories you can look back on and think, “Yeah. That was nice.”