by KARA ALLEN, CSU Public Relations Assistant
This is a piece that I wrote for a class of mine this semester when we were asked to write about a community we have in which we find identity with. My next-door neighbors and their daily open invitation happy hours is place where I find great community and friendship. In this piece, I tried to write about the experience objectively, as one may experience it for the first time. This piece is dear to me for a lot of reasons… I present to you, “happy hour”.
I believe in happy hour. “BYOB” is yelled as the man on his four wheeler wheels away from a strangers house that he intends to make a friend. He’s rough around the edges, but he’s kind. He only dishes as much as he thinks you can handle. I believe in a glass with scratches down the side filled with the cheapest wine you can buy. With a dash of nervousness swirled into merlot, you head down to the humble cabin against the lakeshore. You follow the echoes of voices and the scent of cigar smoke down an unpaved path that leads to a circle of chairs opening to face the reflection of clouds on the lake. The only disturbance is a faint breeze. I believe in strangers. As you sit in the circle with a dozen different conversations dancing from chair to chair seemingly right over your head, the patriarch notices your eyes shifting from person to ground. He tells you he’s grateful that you’re there and asks for a cliffnotes of your life. People look over to you, listening to what you have to say with intention. Although he gives you grief for something you say, he is entangled in every emotion you exude. The patriarch responds to a question from the person to his right, only to be followed by a roar of laughter. I believe in heartache. As the focus of the circle falls off of you, the person to your left reaches out their hand. She’s warm and she’s personal. You shake her hand and ask where she’s from. And she’ll tell you. But she won’t tell you that her husband died seven months ago fighting fires in Australia. The man to your right asks if you want to try the new IPA he has, and he gives it to you. But he won’t give you the story of being sexually abused all of his life. And they remember this pain because through those cracks their heart seeps out and onto you. I believe in companionship. I think I missed the part where happy can be synonymous with escape but that’s what it is. An escape from confusion. An escape from the demands of money and wreckage and chaos. After all these years, I still look out in the circle and am aware that I can’t understand these people or any part of their grief that I don’t share. But I understand your cheap wine, in a scratched glass in a clenched hand. So bring your troubles and I'll give you shelter. Bring your weakness and I’ll give you my hand. And BYOB and I’ll give you a chair.