I’m here in sober mind thinking on less than sober moments though nothing in particular, a boom of laughter, eyes squinted from a smile, glasses making their unmistakable clinks and clunks, people talking over each other and with each other about nothing and the swell of everything. It hurts to say that it’s becoming hazy, the memories, the sound of it all and the pain. Sometimes I wish the pain were more present to serve as a more stinging reminder. Time trudges on and so does life while waving goodbye to memories from a speeding car. You never know what someone is going to mean to you initially. Sometimes while you are living in the moment, doing the right thing–acknowledging just what someone means to you–they leave; they die. I was basking in his light when it was inexplicably extinguished and done little to go back to touch that feeling. I have done what I can to move forward, as you do. It has been tumultuous, what with his fame and all. What was so natural between us became muddled, mired by those who showed up in the aftermath.
The aftermath is why I had to push on. I couldn’t be around the human forms of Facebook posts trying to prove their connection to my guy. I wanted to just go back for a quiet drink with him, Mikel, before his monicker, Eyedea. I just want Mike. I wanted to be at one of our spots. Our watering holes or my basement. I want to turn back the 5 years since and be there for the ease of it all.
Since Micheal Eyedea Larsen’s death, I have become different, more sullen and a bit of the ease of my joy now needs far too much effort without him. This ease was felt primarily at Costello’s, The Glockenspiel or my basement making music with him. Not too long after his death, Costello’s, a classic local St. Paul dive bar was bought out to become a bright shiny, high-end eatery. It hurt and I haven’t been back since even though reviews have been stellar. It’s just something that I have any reason to put myself through.
Over the last few months my wife, along with our beautiful daughter, made the jump into Minneapolis. Along with the move, obviously came the loss of our partially finished basement that held so many memories. We laughed, drank, smoked, and made music as effortlessly as any of ever had. The music was a true afterthought. Mike and I would get together, perhaps call a couple other guys with “make music” lightly penciled in our itinerary. Nothing was ever set in stone. The nights we tried our best to buckle down were a total bust at times and the nights to designed for goofing off bled into full weekends lost to making music together by utter accident. Our new house is lovely and even has a finished basement. But with this finished basement and new steps in life, also mark a small loss for the spontaneity of up to 10 hours spent somewhere between well spent and wasted. He was the only person that I have ever met that I could spend that kind of time with on such a regular schedule and I more than suspect he will be the only one. Costello’s is gone. The basement is gone.
Last week, I received a phone call from one of our best friends. Not a text; a phone call. I answered to ask Nic what was up. He told me that the Glockenspiel was closing. When we all first started hanging out together, before Costello’s, before the basement, there was The Glock. It may have been where I met Mike, or at least where I interacted with him enough on a serious level to say that I truly met him. It wasn’t much of a bar. I remember wondering why we would frequent that spot, well it turned out that Mike just didn’t like to drive and The Glock was right around the corner from his house. Fair enough. It wasn’t a terribly large bar, but the ceilings were 20 feet tall with a sizable eating area in the back. It gave the perfect illusion of grandeur though we were simply there for the libations and chatter. It is a noted for its German food if that’s a thing that you’re into, but it was near dead every we went there. It was a place for novelty and weekend lunches, but it just became our bar. The bartenders knew and liked us, frequently closing the doors (sometimes early) just to let us illegally smoke cigarettes and drink off the books, occasionally until near sun up. This was our spot, our first spot, and it was closing.
Nic and I determined that we had to go. We had to have a beer and a whiskey at least. The usually empty bar’s closing made the local news which created a bit of a fervor. Upon arriving for the last night of service, the place was packed, both bar and restaurant. Tubas and accordions filled the hall barely audible over everyone’s singing and talking. We were tucked in, barely able to move. It was an absolute spectacle, admittedly not quite the spectacle we were looking for. We got our whiskey and German beer. We attempted to reflect while moving out of people’s way. They were all reflecting on their times there also, but for very different reasons. We never really got down to the meat of our loss beyond a glass clink or two and his name being peppered throughout the night. But what did come was the ease. That ease of laughter and joy that had been absent for 5 years. Nic, my wife and myself smiled wide and another friend made a near perfectly timed appearance. It felt large and casual at the same time.
The Glockenspiel closed at 10 that night and we moved across the street to one of the more typical St. Paul neighborhood dive bars. It was never a favorite due to its seedy nature, but we had all been there with Mike a few times also. It was near empty and we continued to drink. None of us planned to be out that late, it just happened. Our talks filled our hearts more than any drink. We hadn’t all been together in this sort of capacity in over a year and we all needed it desperately without ever having said it. But how do you ever say that you need spontaneity and easy conversation without ruining it by virtue of its mention?
Costello’s is gone. My basement is gone. The Glockenspiel is now gone the way of my friend also. This time, we all just got to say goodbye the way we all wanted to, the way we needed to, the way we deserved to and in the way Mike deserved. We finally got to say our goodbyes in the most fitting way for Mike, with a boom of laughter, eyes squinted from a smile, glasses making their unmistakable clinks and clunks, people talking over each other and with each other about nothing and the swell of everything.