Florida trip sheds light on unexplored parts of Eau Claire
Earlier this week, in an attempt to at least make a show of physical fitness, I started rollerblading around Eau Claire. While my efforts have been met with varying degrees of success (my legs are sore, so that must be something), I’ve also taken my fair share of dives. The consequences of these tumbles have mainly manifested themselves in an ever-increasing awareness of the fleshy parts of my palms.
Sure, it isn’t as cool or sexy as a ring finger, but the fleshy part of your palm is used for all sorts of stuff. Stuff that isn’t necessarily recognizable until you have to do without it. Sometimes I think that Eau Claire gets the same bum rap that the fleshy part of my palm does. More specifically, it sometimes doesn’t get a rap at all.
We’ve had dozens of columns written about this subject – most a lot more eloquent than what I’m writing now – about the fact that Eau Claire isn’t that bad of a place to live. There is something inherently lame about apologetics for your hometown, but it doesn’t stop V1 from printing these letters, and it doesn’t stop these letters from being an important, pervading attitude in our city.
About a month ago, I went to Florida to visit my grandparents and watch some spring training baseball. It wasn’t until the third night – when I had some free time – that I looked in the local version of Volume One for something to do. Fort Myers is a city of over 500,000 people, a city full of tanned, beautiful bodies, a city that Johan Santana calls home all year ’round, and do you know what they had to do on a Tuesday night? Absolutely freaking nothing. OK, that’s not entirely true, there was some book reading by a local horror writer … at a grocery store.
My point is this: we complain all the time about the occasional night with nothing to do. We opine for hours about how lame it is that we have to watch those crummy reruns of American Idol that they play on Fox late at night. We even *gasp* say that if we moved someplace “cool” that there would be an overabundance of cool friends, events, or whatever. That’s all fine and good, but is it true?
The more time spent in Florida, the more it was like missing that fleshy part of my palm. It was like trying to gingerly turn a doorknob over and over again. I missed going to the Acoustic Café and seeing a random jam band I’d never heard of. I missed one of my friends telling me about some film on campus that I’d been meaning to see (or lying and saying that I had seen) for over a year. More than anything, I missed being able to turn stuff down.
Maybe that’s the thing that we don’t realize. Sure, there are the moments where we look for “stuff” to do, but what about all the times that we’re offered said “stuff” and for whatever reason choose not to accept? It could be laziness, it could be loneliness, but for whatever reason, I feel like a lot of us just skim the surface of this town thinking that we know every crevice.
So that’s where I am now. I’m left with a sinking feeling that even though I’ve lived in Eau Claire for 23 years, I don’t really know the city. You know what? Maybe that’s OK. Maybe we’re supposed to moan about what we don’t like, and wish for something better. That could just be the thing that drives a new business downtown, or adds that extra wing to the library. It’s just good to realize that when you leave home, even for short period of time, you’ll feel that tinge of loneliness. A tinge of, “Wow, I think we might do things better in Eau Claire.” It’s these moments that truly make us a community, albeit one that should wear wrist guards more often.