Wednesday, January 1, 2014

Christmas contretemps...Terry's Tavern

Two days before Christmas, I went with Nick to Zanesville. After some last-minute morning Christmas shopping, before the stampede arrived at the Zanesville mall, we headed for the long drive home. Only a few minutes out on the highway, the car lost power. I drifted onto the shoulder and  entered into a flurry of phone calls--to Roger, to AAA and to the local AAA person.

Finally, the man with the tow truck arrived, and towed us to the nearest shop. The people at the shop advised us to have lunch--by this time it was 1:00--at Terry's Tavern just a block or two away by the railroad tracks. Was it OK for us to enter such a place as strangers? I asked. Yes, I was told, they are very nice and have great food.

We headed out in the cold and wind and walked along a desolate strip of warehouse type buildings until we reached Terry's Tavern, literally right next to the railroad tracks. The advice we were given was good--Terry's was welcoming to us.

The food was also good--home made, "real" food--and the prices were inexpensive.

The Terry's Tavrn menu. The egg sandwich, which I ate as a vegetarian, was $1.50.  The double sausage sandwich was $3.50. You can see too its the Midwest, with soda called "Pop." The candy bar was $.75.
In entering Terry's Tavern, I couldn't help but believe we had stumbled on a secret. I never would have found Terry's on my own. Even if I had noticed it driving past, its isolated location by railroad tracks and "down home" look would have said "don't enter." Probably, unostentatious as it is, I never would have noticed it. Even more likely, I never would have been on this warehouse row but on the main drag, with its string of fast food places and national chain restaurants.

So a sense of grace surrounded entering this haven. I wouldn't have been there without a personal contact, fleeting as it was. Ironically, I wouldn't have been there without the unforeseen and intensely irritating situation of my car breaking down. I kept thinking about Harry Potter, a series I  I interact with skeptically and warily, but I do accept how powerfully the books plug into archetypes. In Terry's Tavern, I saw Diagonal Alley, hidden in plain sight, or platform 9 3/4, accessible to those in the know. How much "magic" of the ordinary variety do we miss that is right in front of us?

Being in Terry's was a Christmas gift I couldn't have predicted or controlled.
Nick had the double sausage sandwich. It came with a big plastic container of  horseradish with a plastic spoon sticking out and a catsup bottle repurposed as a mayo bottle with a homemade sign.

Finding these places feels spiritual to me, a metaphor for the half-seen world I imagine dancing all around us, just behind the thinnest of veils blowing in the breeze. I remember once taking a walk around a local lake in Maryland that I had circled dozens and dozens of times, often while pushing a baby stroller. This time, as I was wending my way around it, I felt moved to cut across a grassy lawn and enter a wooded area. I found a narrow trail there and followed it. It led to a neighborhood strictly cut off from ours due to the vagaries of local politics--the only way I had previously known to enter this neighborhood was to drive. And yet here was this trail! How could I not have known about it? Again, I had a strange feeling. I had almost been blown somewhere on a wind. The imaginative and literal met.

Dubbed the "real Diagon Alley," York England

I have difficulty putting into words this sense of finding evidence of the unseen in the concrete. Have others had these experiences? I believe they must be common--and uncommon. Since I am writing this on New Year's day, I am making a note to myself to keep attuned this year to the numinous. Or try to. :)

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