I believe our lives have soundtracks. I know a few scratchy vinyl albums from the 70s did more to shape my world view than 12 years of Catholic school.
Walking through the Best Buy parking lot, CD in hand, I smile down at a familiar scene—laughing, red-bearded man drinking tea, silhouette of a woman with outstretched arms, big orange sun, distant thunderstorm. When I insert the disc and press Play, I’m no longer 45 years old in a Toyota Land Cruiser; I’m ten years old, in my cool older sister’s bedroom, listening to the first words of a new album she just bought from Korvettes. (Well I think it’s fine/Building jumbo planes)
Turning onto I-95N, I’m in 5th grade, nestled under my Bambi quilt, gazing out at a familiar scene—bamboo curtains from Pier 1 in the doorway, Breyer horses arranged neatly in their barn, guinea pigs in a cage, Harriet the Spy on my nightstand. I stare off into space, just listening. (So on and on we go/As seconds tick the time out)
At the Route 100 Exit, I’m in 6th grade, playing my album for the class at lunch. No one really likes it; they’re all into bubble-gummy bands like the Osmonds and the Jackson Five. I feel very groovy and sophisticated. The boys are sniggering at the lyrics. (Mary dropped her pants by the sand/And let a Parson come and take her hand)
Turning left on Meadowridge Road, I’m in 8th grade, home from a dance at St. Johns. I’m buzzed from the Boone’s Farm Strawberry Hill I swigged from a mason jar in the church bathroom. I sit on the floor and pet the dog and stare at my lava lamp. (Miles from nowhere, guess I’ll take my time/Oh yeah, to reach there)
Turning right on Landing Road, I’m in college, watching Harold and Maude for the first time in a bar with my best friend and her boyfriend. Later that year she’ll turn to me suddenly, on a beach in Mexico, pupils huge and black from LSD, and ask me why I slept with him. (Seagulls sing your hearts away/Cause while the sinners sin, the children play)
Pulling into the Ilchester Elementary school parking lot, I’m back in the present. My nine-year old jumps in the car, casually tossing the CD case onto the floor, eager to show me her latest gimp creation. On the drive home she listens to the unfamiliar songs, shyly singing along with the easy parts. I smile—half ruefully, half hopefully—wondering what the soundtrack of her life will be. (Oooh, baby, baby, it’s a wild world….)
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