The first time I met the Red Van Lounge, I actually only met her engine. I lived in the same dorm (for a week) as Chris Oken, the van’s previous owner. As I walked down the hall to my room, I ran into Chris. He was skating up and down the hall on a skateboard, zooming in and out of the open door to his room. He came up to me, flipped his head to get his stingy blond hair out of his eyes, and said, “Hey, man, you like the Grateful Dead?”
Moving some books around today, I found three folded sheets of paper that had fallen out of one of the books. They were a fax that I wrote when I was an exchange student in Almaty, Kazakhstan, back in the spring of 1995. I had hoped that my little essay could be published in the school paper, The Signal, but I feared that I was sending it too late to make the last issue.
I wrote this at the pinnacle of my evangelical days. I basically considered myself a missionary to Almaty at the time, as I was preaching at the only English-speaking church in town — in the whole country, as far as I knew — and was leading a youth group and taking the kids from the church on outings. I fully believed that I would end up back in Almaty one day, teaching English and preaching to the inhabitants. Obviously, that did not happen, as I sit here, 12 years later, back in the States. But I still treasure the time I spent in Almaty, and I was grateful to run across these memories again.
They actually got hitched up back in June. I just now got around to uploading these crappy little cell phone pics of the cake cutting. It was probably the bitchin’est parties in Edge Dwelling history, and it really warmed my peak-oil-believing heart when Jim said something along the lines of “enjoy the food, folks, ’cause the oils gonna run out in a few years anyway.”
Check out Jim’s photo compilation of the event for some real photography.
Calling all Edge Dwellers:
In the spirit of the Ouachita Memory Project, we announce a new writing project: The Red Van Lounge Logs. Luke announced the project some time back:
Over winter break, Jim & I (the people, not the constellation) discussed a book we could make, but it will take all of us. In this book, photos of the Red Van Lounge will accompany stories of the adventures that surround it. Jim has plenty of images, as you can imagine. What we need are stories.
In its heyday, Jim drove that van across the country & as far north as Chicago and south at least to Dallas. He served us tea and freeze dried stew in Arkadelphia. I was there some of the time, so high I can’t remember.
So, in the spirit of the Ouachita Memorial Freewrite, I’m asking for your stories, anything you remember about Jim & the Red Van Lounge. Enough time has passed for him to assume I’ve forgotten all about it. That suits me.
If you have something you would like to contribute, you can either leave a comment here and Rix will email you get your submission. Or you can go to the contact page and drop us a line that way.