Tonight was a relatively brief night out for me to the local establishments, and I found myself finishing off the evening at a bar known for its live entertainment and animated patrons. By animated I mean youthful, I think, or wanting, or both; at the very least, responsive to the rhythms and lyrics emanating from the band, even if such animation stemmed largely from liberal consumption of alcohol. Whatever their motivation or justification, the crowd was boisterous tonight.

Nearby a man vomited at his feet, the ensuing odor trumped in short time by the stench of an absorbent material meant to contain it. Some would consider such an environment the dregs of a community; I felt quite at home. Looking around me, amidst the staggering strides and slurred sentences, I saw purpose. Foreign, yet intimate, embraces presented an outward manifestation of raw emotion: a vital, human baseness we are often instructed to avoid; the desire for acceptance, affection, acknowledgment. In a world and city suffocated by self-righteousness and starved of altruism, people strain in a conflicted, desperate search for validation.

As the band fades and lights rise, there is a great bustling for the door; a din comprised of shuffling feet and raucous laughter is gradually overcome by a final song played over the loud speakers: Ave Maria. Full of grace. With all our faults, in all our frailty, it seems that at some primal level, it is absolution from each other that we seek.

Merry Christmas.