Things change, constantly. The 1947 Plymouth I learned to drive on is beyond rust now. The apartment building in the projects in East Falls I spent from seven until 19 years of age was demolished on national television. The original buildings of the college I attended are hard to find in the current configuration of that campus as I write this forty-seven years after I graduated. I go places that I thought I remembered and get lost, have to circle back to a spot I do remember and either have to ask directions or turn around and go back the way I do know.
This past weekend I drove up to Easton, Pennsylvania to spend time with the college kid. Saturday he wanted to spend time in Philly, to revisit my old neighborhood and just drive around. As we drove down the northeast extension of the PA turnpike he fell asleep, I mean knocked out cold asleep for about an hour. When he woke up he said it was the best nap he’s had since he’d been home for winter break. He said it was because there were only two places where he could fully nap; the couch, his couch, in the great room in our house, and in my 4Runner, because he’d grown up in it.
All I know is that it will be a sad day when I have to put that truck down because he’s right, both children have only known that vehicle. It’s twenty-one years old, about 240,000 miles on it. My mechanic says we should be able to get it to 300,000.
People come and go from your life. Electronic devices die, your old classic iPod, you know, the one that has a shit ton of your transferred music from your vinyl collection, the one that has about a quarter of your massive CD collection on it, the one you copied over with a borrowed vinyl to digital turntable on a computer that you had wiped clean years ago.
Listening to that iPod’s music can only happen sporadically now, on a cheap turntable connected to half-assed speakers. As the old iPod dies I plug it into those speakers and listen as it occasionally sputters and clicks its death throws as it takes me on a sonic journey to the past. The songs stop me from whatever I’m doing. I sit and listen. For some of them I play my congas or other hand percussion. Rarely though am I tempted to play my flute or alto saxophone. They are painful reminders of the longing I still feel to have lived my life consumed by music.
Consumed…burned to a crisp, nothing but embers and the destroyed bits of flesh and dreams remaining of the person I might have been floats on these dying notes. Dreams die and dreamers somehow keep living.
We interrupt this dispatch to alert our music loving audience that Chuck’s old iPod Classic just died. Its last song was Jose Feliciano’s Americano. Funeral arrangements have not been made at this point but if you’d like to participate in the farewell here’s a link to that song .
Sometimes in meditation I visualize what my life would have been like had I not quit my last band and started my career as a corporate learning facilitator and leadership coach. It’s a joyful experience for the most part and I revel in it until it is time to come back to my present life and grocery shop, pick up my youngest from her current adventure, or sit with a client.
Here’s the thing that really upsets me. There’s music on that old iPod that has time machine qualities for me. Songs that remind me of things that have happened in my life, memories that fuel happy, sad, profound stories.
Robert’s about two, in the back seat of the 4Runner and we’re at a red light. Bob Dylan’s ‘All Along The Watchtower’ by Jimi comes on. After about three or four bars Robert asks, ‘Dada, who’s that?’ I say ‘Hendrix’, and Robert, after another two or three bars, says, ‘Turn it up!’
I just got off the phone with an old friend who reminded me that I’m enthralled by all aspects of life, that I find myself fascinated by things that most people don’t even notice. Another friend tells me that I have a huge appetite for life, that I ‘take big bites’ out of every moment.
Moments come and go, memories stay. I can close my eyes and be in a memory so much so that I can experience the taste of the food in my grandma’s kitchen, the smell of her homemade bread or blackberry cobbler. I can still feel the chair or stool I sat on in my house on Foxhall Road where I jammed with my first drum circle. Still remember what it was like to stay up for two straight days recording tracks for a friend’s demo tape. Still remember how playing music binds people together.
Do those things really die? No, but sometimes they change…