There comes a point in a persons life when they realize that they simply have to move on. I had that realization a few months ago, walking around downtown Athens on a break from working during an early Saturday evening after a home game while the sun slowly sank below the horizon.
The remains of the game were everywhere...empty solo cups on the sidewalks, bars cleaning up from the early afternoon drinking and bringing trash out to the curb, police directing the remaining traffic leaving town, several drunk stragglers making their way home or trying to hail a taxi, and a few brave souls who had decided to stay downtown until the evening picked back up again in the later hours of the night when the students would flock back to the bars and make the most of their Saturday night.
I had to stop and look around. I took it all in. Something wasn't right, and it hadn't been for a long time. I began to realize that I simply was not a part of this town anymore, nor could I ever be again. It was an obvious realization, but one that I should have had years and years ago.
It was all over for me.
I have worked, on and off, in downtown Athens in the bar scene for a long time - going on 8 years at this point. I've quit and then come back more times than I can count. My most recent foray back into Athens bar employment was several months long and involved me "training" the newer staff. For me, my nightly training regimen usually involved me and another old timer on his way out - much like myself - standing at the bar taking shots and reminiscing about the fun we had years ago when we were in our prime working with our original crew.
Occasionally, I found the motivation to grab a mop or broom to clean, or give a new guy a walk-thru of the bar, or jump into a bar scuffle to help the staff toss an unruly drunk out into the street.
It was fun while it lasted, but also bittersweet. This was a far cry from the past. Our good friends who were with us in the beginning had left. We both longed for the days many years ago when it was all fresh and new while we were still in college and working in a bar was the cool thing to do. We tried to replicate those days by staying at the bar drinking ourselves into oblivion until 5 or 6am, talking about the wild late-night parties we had years ago. But the future was on the horizon and obvious, and I think a bigger part of us was ready to shed the past, and move into the future with a hope for something bigger and better.
Usually, we found ourselves as the only two people in the bar that late most weekend nights. This would make sense, because years and years after everyone else had left, we were still there. I guess our late nights were a reflection of our life choices up to that point.
That particular friend was the sole remaining throwback to my original days working downtown. He's gone now. He moved away to start a new chapter in his life a few weeks ago, and I applaud him for that. Shortly before he left, I decided to do the same and marked my last weekend working at the bar to coincide with his.Truth be told , neither of us spent it doing anything close to working. We just drank, traded old war stories, and then drank some more. A fitting end to nearly a decade of binge drinking, fighting drunks, cleaning bars, and pouring drinks for underaged college students.
I have to move forward now. I've spent too much time looking back at the fun I had and wishing I could replicate it, and not enough time pushing forward and diving headfirst into my new life, a new chapter that is sure to be just as fun and rewarding as my time in Athens was, although in very different ways. Through my years of drunkenness, I managed to finish college. I have a real job at a real company where solutions to problems don't always involve a headlock and lots of shouting. I've worked here for almost a year. It's time to put the drive and dedication into that job - an actual career - as I have in the past with my bar jobs.
I've thought a lot about it all, and also how it will affect this blog. I still have tons of stories to tell, but in the end they're all pretty much the same. I've said everything that I could have.
So, I've decided that this will be my final post as the Athens Door Guy. My drunken stories, my beliefs about the Athens-Clarke County government, and my opinions about stupid, naive, drunk college kids are just as true today as they were the day I posted them on this blog. Hopefully this site will still remain relevant to whatever brand new UGA freshman stumbles across it in the future, skimming for information on downtown Athens and how to get a fake ID or get past the bouncer at the door. The risks of downtown will remain and my warnings are still valid, but the fun things you can do while hammered and wandering the streets of downtown Athens are all still there for anyone.
I will undoubtedly visit Athens again. That is a certainty. I'll show up for a football game and take advantage of some random bars Power Hour, and take too many jager bombs, and stagger down the same puke and skunked-beer smelling downtown streets as I have hundreds & hundreds of times in the past. But I will do so - finally - as a permanently retired bouncer, doorguy, greeter, blogger, bartender, or whatever the hell you want to call me.
And I'm incredibly happy with that.