I seem to have a never-ending stream of ways to find grief. Today, it was the pub. By the way, it’s been 83 days since she passed away. I’m still counting.
I’ve been going to the local brew pub for a lot of years, more than ten, perhaps twenty…long before I lived here in Fairfax. I got to know Mike Altman a bit when he bought Iron Springs, built it up and made it the glowing success and icon of our town that it is today. I knew the woman brewer before him, when it was Ross Valley Brewing Co., and the brewer before it was Ross Valley.
Such a favorite place, with live music on Wednesdays, the bicycle crowd hanging out on Sunday afternoons, tons of families with kids on Tuesdays. Nancy and I used to go about once every week or two, discuss dinner options for five minutes or more, then always order the Fuji Apple Salad with Chicken, and a Cheesburger with French Fries. We split them both, as Nancy liked variety and choices. She’d have a couple of glasses of chardonnay, and I’d have some of Mike’s finest. We’d talk, smile, fight, bicker, brainstorm ideas as we built our house, plan vacations. The table for two in the corner near the cash register was our favorite, along with the woman who often served us wearing a great old fedora or homburg. And I haven’t been back since September.
Tonight I came to pay for two kegs of beer I’m bringing to work for St. Patty’s Day tomorrow, and had fine conversation with the manager, got to taste a really unusual beer, sat at the end of the bar as life and relationship swirled around me, loving the music and conversation, the warmth and the bustle, the smell of the food and the hops, the pint before me.
And cried again, just quietly sitting at the end of the bar with tears making my beard wet, dabbing at my eyes with a napkin. That’s the third time today.
Iron Springs will be a yardstick for my recovery. When I can sit there for an evening without crying, I’ll be a lot more whole than I am now. That’s not going to stop me from going back. This needs to become a regular part of my life again. I want my pub, dammit!