A word of appreciation for Joel at Big Planet Comics in downtown Bethesda. Tonight, about 100 comic book stores around the country opened at midnight to sell the first issue of the Marvel limited "Dark Tower" series. I'm not usually one to go shopping for comic books at midnight in Bethesda, but ah loves me mah Gunslinger. And, as I'd only left my office at 11:30 tonight (big project - done tomorrow by 5!) I figured, what the hell.
It was a gorgeous, if a little slick ride from downtown back to Maryland. There weren't many cars on the road, and the precipitation was of the "pretty snow globe" variety - so beautiful, I just wanted to sit and watch it for a while (which I did when I finally got home.) I pulled up in front of Big Planet, and I saw a couple of folks inside. I wasn't sure what to expect, as I'd only been there once before, when a surly, plump, young Goth woman gave me a goodly measure of attitude for asking if they carried Viper Comics. (I was looking for The Middleman by the fanschmabulous Javi.) Walking in tonight, though, I got the friendliest greeting from Joel, the proprietor, who told me it was my lucky night.
Joel had decided that anyone who showed up in the middle of the night in our first inclement weather of the season got their Gunslinger comic book for free. How 'bout that? After a 14.5-hour workday, that was pretty sweet. (Sorry, Sasquatch - couldn't get a freebie for you - we'll have to swing by after work and grab one for you!)
We talked for a bit - he has a customer whose wife works where I do. (More interestingly, said customer works at the medical museum at Walter Reed, one of the funkiest places in all of DC! They have an exhibit running now called, I swear to god, "Scarred for Life"...) I think I rambled a bit - I was suddenly too tired to function, but still had to get home. With well wishes for my four mile trek to Chez Merde, I was out the door, clutching a bag of Gunslingery goodness and walking carefully to the car.
When I reached my building, I turned the car off and just sat for a while with the door open, listening to the nothingness and watching the snow float in the beams of light from the streetlamps. So silent. So peaceful.
I had this pleasant habit before the eye went all wrong. I would come home in the evening and just watch the sky from the open window of my car. My place is just far enough away from city lights that I can see the stars well and clear beyond the pine trees that line the street. I would just enjoy the simplicity of the sky turning from blue to warm purple to the deepest midnight hues, and watch as the stars burned in the darkening heavens. It reminded me of being a kid - camping with my family. It reminded me of being in the middle of nowhere with my mom, just having the kind of fun only a couple of cheap dates can, with books and flashlights and some Triscuits and cheese, and the sound of crickets and slow-running streams.
But, for a long time now, I've been afraid to really look at the sky. Afraid to see that it doesn't look the same anymore.
Maybe it's time for me to get over that. The sky is the sky is the sky is the sky. And how I see it is, well, how I see it. Maybe the stars will look a bit different. Maybe they won't seem quite so bright or clear. But they are the same stars. It's only the vision that's changed. I need to reclaim that pleasant habit.
Whoa. How the hell did I get here from a free comic book?
Man, I need some sleep. I have to be back up in 5 hours. Oof.
Tomorrow, by five, this monster project will be put to bed, and I'll be able to breathe a little easier. If you see a rather large woman with dark circles around her eyes, swigging out of a champagne bottle around 16th & M at 5:15 on Wednesday, be sure to say hi.