Tuesday, May 19, 2009

The Familiar

I happen to be a person who struggles with change. I move towards it kicking and screaming completely doubtful and heavy hearted. I like the familiarity of things I've grown accustomed to. People and places, the tastes and sounds. I struggle to let go and move on once something has become ingrained in me, and I always like to return as a visitor, to the places and things of my past. Although the feeling is bittersweet, and those places and things take on a haunted quality.

I thought about all this on my drive up to Ashland. With all the milestones that mark that drive for me flying by outside the car windows. So many different chapters and memories associated with the places on that drive. From Williams to Mt. Shasta, from Castle Crags to the rolling fields and high desert outside of Yreka. I thought about it again when I arrived in Ashland and sat down at the familiar bar of The Beau Club. I half expected to see the same bartender who worked there in college, but it was a new person behind the bar. A pleasant and pretty young woman. She took my id as I ordered a Deschutes Cinder Cone Red, and asked if I was on vacation. I was, I replied. She smiled, "It's a nice town," she said, "It's a nice place to be." I nodded. I didn't tell her I used to live there.
The Beau Club used to be the place where you could wander down at 9pm on a Thursday night and meet up with all your friends without making plans. It was the place everyone ended up. Now it was unfamiliar faces in a familiar setting. It was sad, but at the same time, it was also reassuring in some way.

I sent a text to Beth bemoaning her absence. She wrote back, "Is Ms. Pacman still there?" It was. Still there in the corner, where we'd spent so many quarters. "Put some U2 on the jukebox for me" she said. I did. And then I raised my glass and drank to all the friends who'd joined me at that bar in the past, and of course, to all those who will join me there in the future.


  1. That is such a gorgeous picture... Which U2 song did you put on? :)

  2. You asked for Sunday Bloody Sunday and that is what you got!

    BTW, no Ashland Amber to be found!

  3. that looks fantastic...i have some strawberry rhubarb jam that would be happy to meet its acquaintance

  4. Hi Elissa - just found your blog from the Foodie BlogRoll today. Very nice blog, by the way. My husband and I are going to be driving to Vancouver in a month, and we always have angst over where to stop for meals. We'll also be staying a night in Ashland (at least that's our plan). We've stopped for lunch there once, but would enjoy some advice about where to eat if you can suggest anything. Any other words of wisdom about restaurants en route would be greatly appreciated. We'll actually be stopping in Ashland on our return trip, probably driving only from Salem to Ashland, then the next day we'll head south towards Placerville where our daughter lives. I noted your suggestion of a place in CA for a sandwich. Perhaps we can check that out.

  5. Ed, your first paragraph is beautiful. It well describes the feeling of change. The paradox of a place being both familiar and foreign is, as you said, haunting.....more importantly, did you think of me whooping your arse at ms.pacman over a glass of red?! :0)

  6. Hi Carolyn,

    Recommendations are my favorite thing! For Ashland, If you like Thai food, Thai Pepper is great. For something fancy, Amuse is my favorite restaurant up there, it's very elegant. There's a new restaurant that I've heard good things about right across from Lithia Park called Sesame, but I can't vouch for it myself. For pasta, there's Wiley's World, a local favorite. And for a nice atmosphere and beer, glass of wine and a sandwich you could try Alex's on the Plaza. They're also open for dinner.

    For breakfast you must try Morning Glory on Siskyou Blvd. They have lemon ricotta panckaes, gingerbread waffles and all kinds of wonderful things.

    If you care to stop in Dunsmuir, Cornerstone is a great breakfast/lunch place, and Cafe Madealena is a wonderful romantic dinner spot, tucked away in an unassuming Mt. town.

    And yes, Granzella's is a great sandwich place.

    Thanks for asking, have a great trip!

  7. Oh Amber. That made me laugh...until I thought about that epic defeat! I'm still mad!