So my husband and I went to Kelly’s over the weekend, and they had Lucky Money candles on the table. Those tall glass cylinders with the Native American headdress on the side, lots of “lucky” phrases and filled to the brim with green or blue wax. They were on all the tables, in various colors, red, pink, white, and black to ward off evil spirits. Most had burned down to the nub, which I suppose meant that money, love, luck and lots of happy spirits were floating about this smoky, burgundy vinyl booth-lined bar. Yeah, happy spirits like Jameson’s and Jack Daniels. Ha. Ha.
Kelly’s is our favorite drink hangout – it has the same vibe as The Village in Richmond, lots of dark wood, dark lighting, cozy. Except the crowd is much older, almost like the people who used to hang at The Village lifted themselves by the scruff of their necks and plunked down in Kelly’s Bar and Lounge.
The first thing I thought of as I ordered a vodka gimlet straight up and gazed into the watery blue wax ringed with black soot, the flame dancing about, was Kathryn. She had these in her store. I had sold these more often than I could ever forget, rolling each in old wrapping paper and taping it closed, placing it in a plastic shopping bag so it would make it safely back to whatever dorm room or hole-in-the-wall apartment it was going to. To be burned in hope. Night after night for hope. Or maybe just for light.
It was probably the gimlet, but I began to wax poetic to my husband about Kathryn Harvey. He’d never met her, and that still grinds away at me. I can’t get my mind around the fact that he will never know her, her warmth, her laugh. I can try and try to make him understand just how fucking fantastic she was, but all he can do is look at me and listen quietly, shaking his head. He understands, but I can see he doesn’t “get” it. You can’t really know a person until you actually spend time with them. The stories you tell, no matter how spellbinding or descriptive, can’t take the place of actual experience. This realization makes me want to stop writing, to stop trying. It all suddenly seems so pointless. So I order another gimlet. It makes me so sad that he will never know her. Just as my grandmother and my mother died before he could know them.
Like I had another life entirely before I met him, which I suppose I did. I just want him to know who I WAS, as well as who I AM. He’s a part of my life, he’s a part of me and my experience. I gazed into the blue candle looking for answers, and all it told me in its firey depths was, “Keep writing, you’ll figure it out.”
p.s. I did find out that Mimi Regelson still operates Exile which I find extraordinarily comforting somehow. As the behemoth of VCU grows around her, she’s holding her ground. Big Love Mimi.