Nearly 15 years is a long time.
Sometimes it feels like just yesterday that a job took me from my hometown to Lexington. Other times, usually when they involve trying to run a road race against some young-legged 20-somethings or staring the mirror at the gray hairs, it feels like an eternity.
Plenty’s been done in those 14-plus years. Friends made, friends lost. Memories made. Hopefully no memories forgotten.
When the decision was made to join the team at ST Publishing, move from Lexington back home to Saratoga Springs, and help the company’s efforts in the Spa City, girlfriend-now-fiancée Elizabeth and I did what everyone does when the end is near: We worked up a Bucket List.
It’s written on a white paper placemat from The Sidebar Grill in downtown Lexington, one of our favorite midweek spots for a good burger, a cold beer, sometimes live music, and plenty of great conversation. Sidebar wasn’t on the list, but we went two nights ago anyway. To see friends. To say our goodbyes.
Another item on the list simply stated “Green Lantern/Charlie.”
Charlie is good friend Charlie O’Connell, an ex police officer, current police dispatcher and the de facto leader of the Sunday morning run/walk group I’ve been blessed to be a part of for the better part of six years. Charlie knows all the spots downtown, the good spots and the dives, their history, their stories, and their characters. He knows people all over town, too, whether it’s noted breeder and hugely successful weanling seller Stanley “Hy” Petter or a lady behind the counter at Tolly Ho.
The Green Lantern, or as its known by most, “The Lantern” is one of those places filled with characters. The place gets packed on the weekends, when great local bands like Coralee and The Townies play there, but most other times it’s more for the hard cores. Strangely we’d never been, and it was one of only two things on the bucket list that were new. Charlie warned us when we told him it, and he, was on our bucket list.
“You sure, they don’t have any heat you know?”
“So what, it’s on the bucket list.”
We tried to go last week, but Charlie intervened with a midafternoon text.
“2 cold for the lantern…they’re hard core…no heat…reschedule?”
The plan was for 8 Wednesday.
Like clockwork, at 8 Charlie texted.
“U sure bout this sh–? 55 maybe 60 degrees.”
We were on our way.
When we got there Charlie was spot on, and he and wife Germaine were hanging out by a space heater near the front of the room and the jukebox. It was about 55 or 60, as predicted.
Charlie told a few good stories while we split a beer before heading off to one of the city’s new watering holes, Arcadium, which features plenty of 1980s video games to keep you occupied and free of your quarters.
Another item checked off the list. There’s still a few more on there in need of attention, and we’ll probably get to more this weekend. Some we won’t get to though, but that’s OK, we’ve packed plenty into nearly 15 years.