Well, my friend Marty did it. Last night, I helped him celebrate the completion of his journey to visit 365 bars in 365 days. The ending ceremony was very fitting…he decided that he wanted to come back to his hometown of Peoria to complete his quest at a bar that was his grandfather’s favorite watering hole. In fact, someone there talked about Marty’s grandfather walking to the tavern (Mike’s Tavern on Cedar Street in West Peoria) from the nursing home, and the owner or one of the regulars giving him a ride back after he had a couple of beers.
The bar was small, and I’m sure that Marty’s celebration brought them the largest crowd that had ever been at that bar at one time. It’s essentially an old garage in a neighborhood that was turned into a tavern. It was small, crowded, and not too pretty, but it had quite a bit of character.
While there, I had the opportunity to talk with some friends that I knew from when I used to live in Peoria. One of them has played in a number of Peoria area bands, and I used to see him all the time when I would frequent the live-music clubs. I hadn’t seen him in quite some time. We talked about mutual friends, who we had seen and who we hadn’t seen, and how life had been for us over the past several years. Another friend of mine who I still see once or twice a year overheard me in a conversation talking about my years at WWCT-106FM in Peoria, and he told me that he had once interviewed me for a college class project, something both of us had completely forgotten about.
I have to admit that it made me a little melancholy to think about those days early in my career. I came to Peoria fresh out of college with a degree in broadcasting and a fist full of tapes and resumes, hoping to get a job in radio. It took me a few months to get that first radio job, so I lived with my brother and his roommate, and worked for my brother at the pizza place he managed. We were all young and careless. Most nights, we wouldn’t get out of the pizza place until 1 or 2 in the morning, and would always go somewhere and party until the sun came up.
I guess the part that makes me melancholy is the fact that it all happened so long ago, it seems like another life…almost like I didn’t even live it, but read about someone else living it. Most of us live our lives in sections, I guess…maybe periods would be more appropriate. That was my “Peoria period”. The decisions I made in my life at that time seemed like the best decisions to make, given the circumstances. As I look back, I can examine each “period” of my life and see what got me to where I am today. From the “living on the farm” period to the “college” period to the “corporate world” period, it all fits together somehow.
There have been some very rough “periods” of my life, and I wouldn’t want to relive them. But unless I die tomorrow or shortly thereafter, I’m sure there are other “periods” of my life that are waiting for me…and some of them may not be too pleasant. But in the very end, I’m sure each “period” will flash before my eyes and reveal its significance.