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Maybe it's just the end of a long winter, or perhaps the change in jobs, or, indeed, these troubled economic times, but I've been feeling unsettled recently.

This feeling manifests itself in a general sense of unease, a nagging lack of confidence, and a heaviness of spirit. Knowing this, I have scheduled a short vacation for the beginning of April that will help recharge my batteries. Meanwhile, everything gets done, and perfectly satisfactorily too, but I need more fun and less toil.

These thoughts were going through my mind when I accidently came across this photograph. Turned face-up in a box in the basement, it's a very old picture of what I suspect is a long gone cafe/bar that I used to frequent when I lived in Columbia, Missouri.

It's an apt photograph to find while I am in this particular frame of mind, because my prevailing mood during my time in Columbia way back in 1982 was of dislocation.

I had only recently moved from England to America, and this town was the first place my wife of those years and I had rented together. So there was the strangeness of early first marriage, the strangeness of a new town in a new country and the strangeness of my first serious job, working in the Biochemisty Dept. at the University of Missouri for a cranky but ultimately likeable researcher.

None of these pursuits felt quite right. Not helping at all was the fact that I was attempting to ground myself after a severe bout of depression, and, at that time, getting no further treatment. That was a mistake in itself, but I had convinced myself that I had beaten the illness. Only later did the deeper and wiser realisation seep in that it was not beatable, just manageable.

The one thing about my stay in Columbia that sustained me through all this was my friendship with a group of neighbors, notably Pam from the adjacent apartment to us. She lived there with her mother and worked at a local pre-school. She, and her work and other friends, provided the fun and escape that kept me going. One of the places we would meet was this unassuming little bolthole, The Yellow Submarine.

A wild bunch were Pam and her friends and a lot of beer flowed. I think my state of weekend – and other days – drunkenness in their company ironically kept me from diving back into the slough that I only recently escaped. Not a recommended treatment strategy, to be sure, but it worked well enough. Not, I suspect, for the long run, but I only lived in Columbia for about a year and a half. I was 24.

I can picture long neck Bud bottles, Pam, Evanelle and others whose names are long forgotten, chattering and gossiping in this little place. It's a warm memory.

(It is indeed no more, as this post relates)

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