Tuesday, November 15, 2011

November Blog #15: "This Old House"

November 15, 2011 Prompt of the Day:  Describe a favorite place. Focus on how that place affects your senses.  

A place for every thing, every thing in its right place.  The OCD maxim just makes sense.  What else is there?  Place.  Everyplace.  But, my ultimate favorite place?  I love most places in nature; the forest and the woods in general are wonderful places.  They fill me with a great sense of rejuvenation.  I love to sit and listen to the trees; I think you can feel the energy if you are still enough.  I also love it on the river, riding down the water in a boat, the sun on your back, the wind in your face, and bend after bend of beautiful trees, hillside, and sky.  Those places are really great.  But are they my favorite?  Necessary for sanity, yes, but favorite places?…naa.

My favorite place is an old plank house on a small road in a small town surrounded by open field.  The Old House, as it has locally come to be known, is a place we have been gathering for going on 12 years now.  Friends of mine formed the band Double Negative circa 2000.  The band started with small practice sessions that included the band members and their girlfriends, mainly.  Joe, my boyfriend at the time, and I started going and then next thing I remember…  What is the next thing I remember?  The years have begun to blur together.  Shit, blur together---the years?  We have been together that long.  We have been with this house for so long the blurred years of drinking and merriment are melting together.  Oh, sorry.  I forgot to mention what we did at the house.  We celebrated.  Double Negative always practiced playing at the Old House, and through this, that house gave birth to many things, and most of them were creatures of the night.  It became a studio of sorts for a local eclectically electricy band.  And we were/are the audience.

The Old House was the domicile of the bassists’ grandfather; his father grew up there.  His brother became the grounds keeper of sorts in the beginning when he started fixing up the house.  The house was just across the road from where they grew up.  They basically took it over for use, because it was uninhabited while still belonging to the family.  He ended up doing a great deal of work on the structure, which he would proudly walk you through on a good night if he was awake at the time.  This place was basically the biggest play house of all time.  If you have never had yourself your own real life play house, I highly recommend it.  We all started hanging out when we were either in high school or just out of, our group ranges in ages among other things.  I was 19 years old maybe the first time I went to the House.

Upon entering the Old House “parking lot” on a good night, you are usually inundated with sound.  You can actually hear it before you even hit the drive; the House band can get pretty loud.  Most nights would never get underway until at least 10PM, but if you are arriving like me to a shindig night, you are usually getting there after the band has already begun to play.    

Most of the grounds consist of old farming fields, so the wind rolls easily across the property.   There always seems to be a crispness to the air, even on summer nights. When you make your way up the wooden steps and onto the porch, you greet and mingle your way through the door, where you are overtaken by speakers and amps and bodies.  The band has their equipment set up in what was one of the rooms on the downstairs floor.  The kitchen area is now the floor area.  It is funny to think of all of the transformations this place has had.  There are so many changes that have been made over the years.  I can still picture the walls the way they were those first few years, with odd "graffiti" all over it, animal stencils in odd positions in black paint on blue wall.  A Dylan Thomas quote was on one of the main walls of the kitchen that is gone now.

“Do not go gentle into that good night.
Rage, rage against the dying of the light.”

There used to be a tiny entrance room, there used to be a tiny room off the kitchen, and there used to be a hallway of sorts into the room that used to be the band room.  The house used to be filled with some of the remnants of the household that existed there.  I used to love to explore it with my camera, taking pictures of old Mason jars filled with miscellaneous contents in the basement, and old box springs in the attic, remnants of a past life.  There used to be a room entirely filled with books, and aged pages of poetry, written word from another generation.  The room the band plays in today used to be referred to as "The Pinochle Room".  We used to play game after game of Pinochle.  On a carved dying tabletop we cut the deck and dealt the hands.  Used to, used to, used to.  This is what we were used to.  We have been together through all of these changes, stomping and jumping away to the music, yelling excitedly to each other in muffled unheard voices.  We sing the words along with the boys, plunking our beer pong balls, screaming at the appropriate moments.  When isn’t it appropriate to scream?  Woot! 

Good music comes from the speakers, comes from the music makers, comes from the spirit inhabiting that Old House.  It breathes in with the night, exhaling slowly in smoky song.  Feet stomp, floor boards flex and give to the rhythmic pounding of fanatical hooves, galloping their way to excitement.  The room smells of burnt wood, from the wood burner piped into the chimney in the center of the room.  This is our only source of heat, although it truly is not.  Bodies mosh into each other.  We all fall down; we all get up.  The spirit is in the air. 

Song by song we serenade ourselves, the band serenades us, singing us to the place we all are trying to get to.  Together in this house, we are a home.  We are social siblings, kindred spirits, the same being, existing for the same purpose.  The same light shining on the same place. 

I was supposed to focus on how this place affects my senses but the truth is with the Old House all of your senses are affected.  Not to mention that we are usually partaking in some social drinking while enjoying the music at the Old House, partially to keep warm, partially to relax and unwind, partially to come together and meet in the middle of madness once in awhile---our senses are usually pretty affected!  The Old House is simply sensational! 

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