Work In Progress. By Martin Friel.
It was a time of freedom and a time of fear.
I had fallen in with a great crowd at my latest bar job. Their sense of freedom and hedonistic outlook on life was an inspiration that summer. An endless sequence of dead-end bar jobs had started to wear me down but this lot took me into the fold and nurtured the humour and zest for life that I had thought had been trampled by so many bitter, driven and spiteful bosses.
I embraced them fully. Robbie, Chris, Kitty, Andy, Criona and Rory Ill never forget them. At last I felt like I belonged somewhere. I had found people who appeared to be in tune with me.
The job was merely a distraction. The main purpose was to get out there onto the streets and get drunk and high and laugh at the world around us. We were well known in the local pubs and clubs. Not as trouble-makers. Just people who could never say no; people who were grabbing their chunk of fun while they could.
There was no sense of responsibility. We would drag ourselves in for shifts after another heavy night, scrape through the hell and get back on it again. The process was repeated over and over. Yet there was no tedium. It was always lively, exciting, interesting and it was a hilarious ride.
What had appeared to be a listless existence now seemed to have purpose. The purpose was to enjoy life. Forget about the future it would take care of itself. But the knowledge that I would have to face up to it eventually gnawed at me. I just wasnt prepared to enter into a career of any kind so I chose to bounce from one pointless bar job to another. These people that I had found were validating my choice. In my eyes they made it OK to continue to stumble through my life as I had.
So the Summer drew to a close and gradually bled into Autumn. A lot of the guys went back to University so there wasnt as much partying going on but still the weekends and the odd week night were offered up to irreverence and mirth.
Things had changed but I still hung on to those Summer memories the Summer where I had found my people.
One cool, soft night is burned on my memory. We were all out. It hadnt been planned that way but just seemed to fall into place. Spirits were high; drink was flowing freely; the drugs were available and of surprisingly good quality. The laughter was painful but so delicious.
As we walked up a tree-lined avenue towards the next pub, the drink and drugs had taken effect and we were all behaving like kids. There was a piggy-back fight going on and after I was kicked off my steed, I fell back a bit from the crowd and watched them heading off, still kicking, swinging, laughing, shouting, swearing.
As they moved further and further away, I was overcome with a feeling of deep sadness.
They had their futures assured. They were determinedly moving ever forward. This kind of behaviour was just a distraction; an opportunity for them to have fun before they started to take life seriously. This wasnt their purpose. It was a sideshow. I realised then, that I didnt belong with them after all. I was of a different breed. I had no secure future; no career mapped out in front of me. When they moved on into their futures, I would be left behind, going from dead-end job to dead-end job. They couldnt take me with them.
I caught up with them and fell back into the fun. Nothing had changed but everything had. I looked at them individually and as a group and knew that I loved them but they werent for me. We were on different paths but I was just grateful to have shared in their brief but brilliant burst of energy and life.
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