At the beginning of this semester, my boyfriend and his friends were bored one Saturday night and thought that it would be a fun activity to go bowling. Quite a lot of the alleys around the campus are candlestick alleys and are different from what the group was looking for.
Well, not too far away in Bangor, they found a proper alley that is reasonable in prices, $5 games and $3 for shoes, and Friday nights, 9 p.m. to 12 a.m., a flat rate of $50 per lane for unlimited games. As for the stigma for bowling alley food, we were surprised to see a pretty appetizing wrap with waffle fries leave the restaurant and a decent amount of fried pickles for the going rate. Likewise, drinks aren’t that bad either. It has been a while since I’ve gone bowling, and it’s always been connotated with birthday parties or an easy family outing for when we were kids. That was when the bumpers were up as well, which definitely provided a well-loved handicap that performances relied on.
I was definitely on the fence about it, along with some other people. We soon found out that, with a good group of friends, bowling is pretty fun and can get pretty competitive. It’s funny to see your friends you had no idea were phenomenal at bowling get a strike like it was nothing or when someone who had a decent lead gets one straight into the gutter. At the end of the night, we lather up with hand sanitizer and find it to be the perfect cap for the night. It has become a weekly occurrence.
Two weeks ago, the shooting in Lewiston happened in a bowling alley. For me, it took me aback since it was our new activity. It brought a whole new weight of the events onto us. That something mundane, such as hanging out at a bowling alley on Friday and Saturday nights, would result in people unwillingly losing their lives. It is all just a bit surreal.
Last Friday, we went bowling again. Fridays are typically busy, to the point where we have to wait for a lane. This week, there were only two lanes being used. It was sad to see that a leisurely pastime now has this corrupted mark. To me, this is fucked. The point of bowling or other leisure activities is to have fun and forget about whatever is stressing you that week. For someone to go on and ruin that is a whole different kind of evil. It would cause enough fear in people that they avoid it altogether. It reminds me of the Dark Knight shooting in Colorado; the amount of people who avoided movie theaters due to it was significant. After a while, the numbers grew back, but that fear is still there.
Why is this now something that we have to consider whenever we want to go to a pool, a trampoline park, a skate park, a playground, a soccer game, an amusement park… Fear boards us up, which is its goal to do. How to fight fear is to do the thing that scares us, to face it, and not let it control us. We didn’t need to go bowling Friday, but it was something we wanted to do, and when we got there, it was fun, and fear didn’t even cross our minds. Combat the fear one step at a time until it is a haunting lesson rather than a guideline.
I won’t let that fear control my actions. After all, we make our own decisions, and someone with a gun does not. We do whatever we can to fight that fear. So we go back to the alley, watch the screen depicting my dreams in real life when someone gets a strike, and we get to know the people we have grown close with through a common activity. We go on.