Friday nights are sweetly anticipated portals to the weekend, and as such, always have that liberating air about them - regardless of the time of year it is. But for me, the cool, crispness of autumn, added to Friday night's already genial nature, has always put this version of the beloved portal slightly above those belonging to the other seasons.
For awhile there, in high school, my buddy and I had a Friday night ritual: after school we would walk over to his house, and then with the evening, we'd hit the town in his parent's car. I can still remember the feeling of freedom I had those nights as we headed downtown, listening to the Lone Star Dead show with the windows down. It's when my love for the Grateful Dead first came to be. We'd head to Half Price Books first, and then to Dan's Lakewood Cafe - a small, decades-old, smoke-filled cafe where we'd eat and hang out for the rest of the night with a small building-ful of our cigarette-smoking, pierced, tattooed, dyed-hair brethren. It was a cool place; I liked it. But I always left with the vague sense I was lucky to have left the place unharmed.
My early 20's had my Friday nights spent different ways. Sometimes I'd ride home with my friend from work and we'd go out to eat and a movie; sometimes I'd crash at her place, which was always fun. Other times I'd just go home and open all the windows, turn on some music, and I'd paint or write. Or I'd go to my friend's place and hang out with him and his roommate, drinking and talking.
In these past few years of my self-induced "displacement," I've often liked to go out walking late at night during this time of year. I walked almost every night, but Friday nights were always special. There was more traffic about. And more cars parked in front of houses. People out seeing friends. People out having fun. I'd crunch the leaves along the sidewalks as I went, peering in windows as I passed. The fun is always palpable. It's a tradition I'm thinking I should re-establish...
Earlier this evening, I was sitting in the quiet of the kitchen and I could hear the band playing up at the high school football game - that's another thing! I don't give a crap about football - or any kind of sports, really - but I like knowing that they're there for the people who do. I like knowing that there are crowds of people out there at different football games, cheering and excited. I like knowing that people tune in to the radio to hear the plays, they're that interested. I like knowing that people are gathered together, bundled in coats and long pants, drinking hot cocoas and other warm beverages, rooting for their teams under those bright lights.
Friday nights aren't exactly the same for me as they were once. I don't have a job that I come home from to relax at the end of the week. But I still feel it.
The fall's night air comes in through my window and Jerry Garcia's spirit flows out, upward to the moon. And my atmosphere - inner and outer - is unspeakably good.