After A Pitcher of Beer at Antlers Pub, I Believed I Was Brave
After A Pitcher of Beer at Antlers Pub,
I Believed I Was Brave
And walked with my friend Mike to the State Street Pier.
Mike was funny, a good drinking buddy, and fearless.
He pissed from the edge of the pier, then pole vaulted
over the railing and landed hard with both feet,
right on the lake below. He skidded
on the ice and pretended he was surfing.
It was probably 10 degrees out.
“Come on,” he said. “It’s solid. Look.”
He jumped up and down. He did a little dance.
“What are you afraid of?” he said.
If he asked me now, I would say, “Everything,”
but I was young and we’d been drinking
and I didn’t want to spoil things.
I climbed over the railing.
I put one foot, then the other on the ice.
I took two steps onto the lake and stopped.
I waved at Mike and tried not to look worried.
Mike laughed and did his best Village People.
He spelled out Y-M-C with his arms
and waved at me to add the A,
but instead I held still. I looked out
in the direction I thought was Canada.
There were lights out there and a dark
lump that may have been land and which
was most likely Ohio.
Canada seemed exotic and far away.
Year later, I’d join the airlines
and see the world and not like the way
they promise in the Army. Mike would join
the Army. Neither of us would get the dream
we’d spend many other drunk nights dreaming –
a houseboat off Key West, a life of reading
and drinking and making art.
We didn’t know that then. That night
the ice felt sturdy. I felt like a god,
walking on water, though
I didn’t go further
than two steps. Still I knew
what Simone Weil once said,
“If the desire itself is strong enough,
the desire itself will create
the light,” and so I believed
if I really wanted,
I could make it all the way across.