there in the winter of 1989 I re-discovered something I had known all along; something that looked beyond my acne-riddled face and knobby knees, That awkward plodding along that comes with adolscence, that muddling along that we all face at one time or another. It mattered not, the teasing and torments. For I rediscovered radio. My imaginary friends were Wham! and Duran Duran and maybe a little bit of Debbie Gibson. They spoke to me, chided me for having been away, and gave me a pat on the head and told me it would all be ok in the end, that this too shall pass. And it did.
One of my earliest memories involved figuring out how to work mom's stereo. It was one of those gianormous things that also had a record player in with it, and when you weren't using it the top came down and you had a table to put those knickknacks on. Must of weighed like 500 pounds. Or so it seems when you're only 7 and looking up at this thing. I'd already figured out the record player; My sister and I had lots of those book-with-the-record things (which evolved later into the "Book with the cassette" things). But the stereo, the stereo was special. Tune it in the right place, and you never knew what you would hear coming out of the large, mesh covered speakers. I seem to remember singing along to Peter Schilling's "Major Tom (Coming home)"...4...3...2...1... Although I didn't know the title until much much later.
Several years, and a move to a new (not quite finished) house later, I had forgotten about the giant stereo, until I managed to save up enough for--not a stereo of my own, but a clock radio. I liked being able to get myself up in the mornings, to spare mom having to come up the stairs in the morning (the asthma had kicked in hard and heavy by then, so Dad'd had to put her bed downstairs, in the living room). There wasn't much to choose from in the way of radio stations. Or at least, there wasn't much I was able to pick up with what antenna the radio had. I contented myself with the local country station, which at that point had few songs about losing your dog and your wife, and more about cattle drives and the wild west. What country used to be.
Yet another move (this time to a completely new state, and a new set of problems) in 1987, and I forgot about music for a while. Those couple of years proved that, unfortunately, you can't choose your family. It was a rough couple of years, made worse by folks who had problems way before I ever moved in. A relative made the mistake "similar ages, treat them like twins" attitude, and as a result we ended up with the same stuff at Christmas, even though I had no interest in the things my cousin did. One thing that was done right, however, was Christmas of 1989. We both got little stereos of our own. And life suddenly got a lot more tolerable.
I honestly think it saved my life, there in 1989. I listened to everything, and I believe it kept me from killing myself. Or at least going crazier than I already was. While my cousins were out getting pregnant, and partying, and who knows what else, I was on my bed. Listening. After having a truly awful day at school, I knew at least if I could make it this far, make it a little bit longer, the radio was at home waiting on me, waiting to soothe and make me forget, and remind me that pain was merely a temporary thing.
Those days are long past now, but I still crank up the stereo now and then....and don't ride with me in the car, I'm liable to start singing. Badly, I might add, but at least the spirit is there. Music makes the day go by quicker, and lets in those good memories (while keeping those bad ones out). I like to think the little notes hold together the fabric of my reality. Hopefully they're special to you, too.
Singing a song of sixpence,
(and as usual, comments are welcome--if you email 'em)