Every Sunday, I get into my 18-year-old car and speed into the setting sun on I-64, listening to whichever station my broken antennae will pick up (usually country), until the music fades to a crackle and I find myself scanning for anything bearable as I prepare myself for the rolling hills to part and make room for the sight of the tallest building in Kentucky outside of Louisville—the 32-floor “Big Blue” Fifth Third Bank tower, the marker which indicates I’m almost home. My part-time home, that is—Lexington.
You see, I thought I had been dealt the world’s sickest joke when an employer at a great institution called to offer me a job in Lexington. I was unemployed and new to Kentucky after a 7-year hiatus. And as much as I hated giving up my dreams of living by the mighty Ohio River, I couldn’t not take the money, or as they say, “the opportunity.” So I subscribed myself to a suitcase lifestyle.
Too stubborn to stay in Lexington on the weekends to build a new life I didn’t exactly ask for, I drive home to live out of my parents refrigerator.
This weekend, however, after a tiring holiday drinking and eating spree, I was thrilled when a girlfriend called to suggest we take a break from the “everyone knows everything about you” Louisville scene to party like strangers in Lexington.
She showed up at my apartment with another favorite buddy and they joined me and ESPN3 on my couch, where I had been quarantined by Cat’s fans with texts like, “There are a billion TVs but I don’t think they’ll play Louisville. It’s packed full of UK fans” — to which I responded with a litany of unlady-like phrases and by drinking my roommate’s beer.
Two-overtimes later, I was ready to forget about my boys in red, and stepped out into the heart of Cat Country.
This is where I found myself:
Beer Trappe: We met some friends at this craft beer bar who, of course, were wearing blue and were more excited about UL’s loss than UK’s win, which had me fuming, until one man in blue leaned over to say, “You know, Lexington is more uppity than it has room to be.” I high-fived the man.
Sidebar: It was getting late and we needed sustenance, and the food here is cheaply amazing, and nothing makes you feel more like College! than the Best Friends Forever deal (Jameson shot/PBR). Waiting one bourbon too long for a table, I may have knocked a picture off the wall, and participated in a too-loud discussion about pubic hair maintenance with friends while staring greedily at other people’s food.
Al’s Bar: We split a pitcher of something amber in color and listened to a tall drunk girl tell us she was “taking the goalie out of the game” and quitting birth control. We all promised to babysit.
Green Lantern: This. Is. The. Best. Place. For local music. In Lexington (according to me).
My girls and I ended up finishing the night at this dirty, loud dive with cute bartenders. We winked and flipped hair, ordered Fireball whiskey shots and unopened cans of PBR, and wandered into the music room to situate ourselves in the back to soak up the Lantern dynamics. You’ve got your hipsters, hippies, old people, fraternity boys and girls, dirty scenesters who think they’re famous because they’re known in Lexington, and then there’s us.
Ready to join the party, one buddy looks over her shoulders as she’s already heading her high heeled hiney into the crowd, and looks back to me and screams, “C’mon! Let’s just run in there and make someone kiss us! We’re in Lexington!”
I shook my head, and wished her luck, and stuck back with my boyfriend-ed buddy, who looked at me confusedly, maybe assuming I’d ordinarily be interested in a kissing challenge. And maybe I would be, but Lexington boys (with the exception of one) don’t do it for me. I explained this, and she suggested we find more bourbon.
My buddy found a little love on the dance floor, and by 2 a.m. we found a cab to take us back to my apartment, where our internal 4 a.m. bar clock and need for loud-music and giggles would inevitably piss off my very wonderful roommates. Oops.
The next day my pro-Lexington! roommate asked if I was in love with her city yet. I told her I was in love with Lexington when my Louisville girls were in town. She told me I should just move home already.
I told her that was the plan, eventually.