Sunday, April 26, 2009

Mexican Peanut Butter and the Feeling of Home

I write from the library of Lewis-Clark State College in Lewiston, Idaho. I will be brief as I can be, as I write in a closing library. I have always hated closing libraries, the stacks slow and perceptibly dimming and the librarians shuffling about, closing things down even as you rush to print or finish a chapter of an over-due term paper. Their are always librarians wary from long hours, silence, and constant reptitive work. I always liked to think they go home, crack a 40 of Steel Reserve and listen to Children of Bodom or Rick Ross at 90 decibels to blow off some steam. That always worked for me.

The campus here is beautiful though, and it makes me nostolgic for my college years. I am rapidly approaching the one year anniversary of my own graduation, and those that know me know that I am not over college, it any way. Some day, a decade from now, I know I'll sit in my car, in my driveway drinking Keystone and listening to Whitesnake; that is to say, I'll never be over college. Speaking of Keystone, I found my first river beer two days ago. The fisherman in the Pacific Northwest crush 'stones with some regularity, judging by the hundreds of cans at the public boat launches and in the hands of the men I've seen. The can I found was on the crest of a wave, unopened but battered and scratched of most of its markings. It rode the backs of giant waves to me, a gift from the river gods. I waited until I had to bust out from behind a large natural breakwater into hard surf and blowing wind before I shotgunned it.


I lived in Lewiston, ME for four years and came to love Maine very deeply in that time. Even Lewiston I came to view and love as home. Some say Lewiston is the armpit of Maine, but if thats true then the Pine Tree state carried me close to her bosom and I love her for that. Lewiston, Maine was named for an Indian that fell into the falls on the Androscoggin, though I've always thought that story seemed a bit made-up, especially that part about him supposedly being drunk.

Lewiston, Idaho is named after Meriwether Lewis of the 1803 cross-continental expedition, and reminds me of home. Walking downtown, I smelled fresh bread and paper mills, each smell alternating with the wind. The awful funk of a river near a major paper mill ocasionally entombs both towns, and in Maine the bakery downtown had its match from an unknown source in Idaho. The small downtown, with run down old theaters, new sidewalks and an aging and sometimes attractive industrial decor made me pine for home, and my years in Maine. I am a long way from home now, a stranger in a land not quite as strange and alien as it first appears.

I've been having some stomach problems lately. Nothing too major, but a pain none the less. I've never had a problem with gut bugs on trip before, so this is all new to me. The only open grocery store in Pasco, WA within walking distance was a Mexican one, and of course I bought the cheapest of everything on my rations list. So I left with 4 pounds of peanut butter, and I suspect that my stomach problem is intimately connected with the aforementioned Mexican peanut butter.

No food has ever given me gut issues before, but lo and behold, I cut out the PB and I'm healthy again. Go figure. I spent a month in Mexico this winter and ate the best food of my life with no problems, but from thousands of miles away and months later, the PB strikes me down. The causal relationship there might be fuzzy, but all I care about is asigning arbitrary blame and moving on.

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