I ventured out to celebrate a good friend's 60th birthday this Saturday. Per form, the weather proved to be cold and blustery but there are plenty of things to do on a Saturday in March when you don't have to be anywhere in particular. So, giving my friend his choice of where to have lunch, we found ourselves at the Rathskeller, sitting in the Kellerbar under the mounted moose head with the sun pouring in through the high windows. Between the spirits and the sunlight, one could forget the outside temperature hovered somewhere barely north of 30 degrees and a twenty mile-per-hour wind whipped through the streets. We ate a good meal of less-than-healthy food, drank, and discussed work, politics, and the general state of humanity in the modern age for a couple of hours under the roof of the building Vonnegut's ancestors designed then gathered our coats and set out on the downtown of Indianapolis.
From the house of Vonnegut we made our way to the Eiteljorg to catch the Red Black exhibit. For those of you who aren't Indianapolis natives, the Eiteljorg is the local museum of Native American and Western history. It's a lovely building that (by design) seems to rise out of the ground, kiva-style. The exhibit, like many good museum installations, left me feeling enlightened and troubled. My Cherokee heritage has always been a source of pride however, learning that my people kept slaves reinforced the realization that native peoples are just that - people. They have all of the same flaws and shortcomings no matter what their genetics.
From inspecting the past we made our way to the big downtown mall to discover another of the mega bookstores, Borders, is closing up shop in downtown Indianapolis. It was my wakeup to the fact that the chain had gone bankrupt. Had I waited ten more days I would have missed the entire thing and been left knowing something had been on the corner of Meridian and Washington Street but unable to remember what it had been. We shopped the remnants and it felt a bit like attending an estate auction while the viewing was still underway in the parlor.
I have the distinct feeling birthdays shouldn't come in March. It's too depressing a month, filled with rain that wanted to be snow but didn't make it and ceaseless, restless wind. Even the ground is wet, swollen and sick with too much rain. A lot of people would say the month of my birthday is just as inappropriate, January is a frozen and unforgiving month of bitter cold and driven snow - equally depressing. Still, I think March is worse. It's the season of promises on the brink. Of hints at warmth that turn out to be misleading; the weather version of red herrings. This March has come in like the proverbial lion but, in the hearts of every Hoosier, we know there's little guarantee she'll leave like a lamb.
I don't mean to leave you depressed! Looking at the facts, the days are getting longer and the average temperature is climbing with each day. Spring has arrived, harbinger of summer's long, languid afternoons and temperate nights. All is not lost - it's just a bit uncomfortable for a while.