Hanover, and nothing to do with Hanover

Figuring that with 12 crew and 2 skippers, we would take two cruisers with 8 aboard each and there would be little to do for the day but look at the water, I went to Hanover, PA for the day instead on a road by my house that takes you most of the way there. Woods and curves with stone houses quietly bought up by the quietly wealthy, and the odd cafe I saw in this middle of nowhere escape seemed a tribute to a trend. Who stops there? Who do its seats fill up with in the middle of Falls Rd with five houses in the half mile radius? I learned about something on the drive up (that something is a saddlery), saw a little vineyard, saw a 3D printing shop. The road slips to flatter lands, fewer woods, less wind and more plastic with cornfields and then smaller yards and more neighbors. Then a couple turns and you’re in Hanover.

A thing I’ve been thinking a lot about lately is escape, as related to the social structure. It occurs to me that, if you really want to, it’s quite easy to drop out! Dropping out and going rogue really isn’t the struggle literature has made it seem. You pay a steep price for doing so in security, health insurance, comforts you (I) have a love/hate relationship with — have you ever been both lost and full of self-doubt only to find ground by stumbling upon a 7-11 or a Starbucks? Do you know that feeling? That up is up and the world is in fact the same one you know? And then you have the luxury of hating it all again. Maybe this is my limited experience speaking, my unchanged self… — but if you want to drop out, it won’t miss you.

But coming to that point where you decide, that is a struggle. Because unless you’re born to circus performers, the structure you and most people are in is all you know and goes unquestioned. That is, you may question its rules and structure, but you don’t question its existence altogether. Its claim to power goes unchecked because it has a monopoly on “adulting”. And I think it is a struggle because at first you try to change it. You struggle against it, like trying to get a lover to change, but on a bigger scale, much bigger. From the inside, the criticism and pushes, trying to change and upend it, turn others against what works so well for order, that is what gets you bruised and broken. You get scratched and pushed and a very irrational reaction forms against you and hits you like a wave…. But if you leave, well, even if you stay on the fringes and stealthily partake a bit, I don’t think it much cares. You’re peripheral. Your stealing is laughable. You can reap the boon. But don’t you dare tell the squad it’s wrong. When you think about it, it really works perfectly. Everyone, even outsiders, have their place.

And that’s why it occurs to me that a true escape isn’t possible. To “escape” is to stop being human.

It’s interesting to think about, how inside some people, they may feel so far from “human” and yearn to, while others may feel so inescapably human and confined by it. Some may be playing a part while off in space or in a nonexistent country under their skins. An octopus walking on land, typing 60 wpm with its tentacles. A third grade teacher. But what do I know of it… I feel too human, and only recently see human as just one of many possible ways an intelligent species could be. I have a pet bird, though, so it’s easy to think.

Change “human” to “earth”. If you weren’t human, would you feel so connected to the earth when you drop out of societal patterns that don’t match the sunrise and sunset, the seasons, the needs our bodies’ ancestors have long had and which shaped them? Sensing this what we call natural rhythm only makes you realize that you are but a partial thing on a lone planet. And that makes you realize your place in the scope of it all, if only a tiny little bit. Cross a city like Baltimore and every inch you could remark to yourself, could notice, could recognize in every eye you meet, the same little grain, the same potential, shaped by circumstances into what it “is”, but this “is” was never a “must”. And so for “human” in general.

Hanover is quiet on a Sunday. I walked into the Sound Room past a couple men with guitars chatting on the sidewalk. “Is there live music?”
“They just finished,” the owner nodded to the two men.

I was the only customer. It seemed an oasis in a desert, this place with a pool table and guitars and wall hangings, like you got your house ready for a party and nobody bothered to show up. Between this and a few other spots like the brewery on the main square, the soul of the town-pushing-forward keeps its head above some damn indifferent water and For Sale or For Rent signs three to a block.

Please, builders of America, why do you choose pale siding for the houses you don’t want to build out of brick? Why not brick-colored siding? Or something… bright? More saturated? More complementary to the beautiful brick of the old colonial houses or even the sky? Why not medium gray with colored accents? Gray goes with everything, and during a storm… could you imagine?

It’s been many years since I’ve seen a plastic coated fence of teal. No lens quite captures the starkness of midafternoon sunlight on pale siding and spinning  plastic toys stuck in rock gardens. Nor the wind-rocked old swing hanging off the tree by an old brick half-mansion on the next street over.

It’s a bit Station North art district, a bit dust, a bit route 40 storage units, an undeniable Frankenstein, all in an oasis isle half a mile from cornfields and 10 miles from posh vineyards in the oddly cramped historical record that is east coast real estate.

Miscreation brewery is a beautiful place. Got a bartender who cares and pours his soul into it, and the art — look at the fantasy pieces and you see the essence of the minds that built this. Human souls in boredom excited by ‘other’, by more than what is and what shaped them on the outside, by escape. Does fantasy level the playing field? No matter where you came from, you enter this nonexistent, symbolic world with a set of rules that apply to all. Anyone can love it and be loved by it.

Other art was butts. It’s got a somewhat Sublime feel to it. One of the men at the bar looked vaguely familiar in the way any middle aged man with a ponytail and glasses looks like someone I’ve talked to/seen on TV/seen at a show/etc. Tool was the music. A DIY show was the television. A family of five sat nearby where a boy of eleven had opinions on the beer and spun his baby sibling around.

Places like this seem to fight not decline but stagnation, which is a much longer timeline. And indifference, which, unlike opposition, sucks the fire right out. Maybe it was just Sunday.

Do I wish I could just go with the flow and enjoy the experience for itself without thinking about a million things that probably don’t matter and likely aren’t true? Yes, yes I do. Beer doesn’t make me think less; it makes me feel more. Luckily, I hate hangovers.

Everything closed early and I left the empty town for a quick drive back. Every time I go somewhere I think of the Little Mermaid (Hans Christian Anderson, not Disney) and how each sister saw something different of the surface world when she swam up. A good travel mentality. Take in what you get, don’t expect to see any certain thing.

Leave a Reply