Jenster was talking today about how whenever she hears Meatloaf’s “Paradise by the Dashboard Light” it reminds her of the time she drove cross-country in a moving truck with her dad listening to “Bat out of hell” as the states flew by. Which, of course, made me think of “Hello, It’s me.”
It was the summer after high school graduation. My relationship with Rhonda Hudson had been in a long, downward spiral pretty much from the day we met, but now the warning alarm in the cockpit was blaring. It was a warm summer night as I got into the car after a talk that left no doubt. As I drove off, I hit the play button on my trusty eight-track player, where Todd Rundgren’s “Something/Anything” resided. And he started singing.
hello, it’s me
i’ve thought about us for a long, long time
maybe i think too much but something’s wrong
there’s something here doesn’t last too long
maybe i shouldn’t think of you as mine
I drove to Santa Fe Park, cried for about an hour, and drove home, switching to the Doobie Brothers. Since then, I have had that album on vinyl, CD, itunes and now spotify. Whenever I hear it, I remember that moment. A snapshot. For me, music is my scrapbook of memories. I associate songs with moments. Music is the story of my life.
Today, I was running on the Jesus etc. course (3 miles, 12:24). Just another easy day. Sunny, warm, uninspiring. Wilco’s new Star Wars album on the headphones. And then. A Crazy Homeless Guy was walking my direction. He must be new; I didn’t recognize him. Maybe in his 40s, grimy, no belongings. I started to veer away a bit, but then he stuck out his hand. It was the 5-year-old kid on the NYC marathon route salute. What could I do? I extended mine. He gave me a resounding high-five, a manly man slap that stung my hand. It was pretty fucking perfect. A little celebration of life between two humans on a planet headed for extinction. Might as well enjoy it while we can. At that moment, Tweedy broke into “Random Name Generator.” Crazy homeless guy. Runner. Journalist. Catholic. Wayward waif. Library curator. Friend. Ex. Pope. Texan. North Carolinan with an i. donut devotee. Un hombre del mundo. Human. They’re just random names slapped on us at points in our lives. Still, for one second on a sidewalk in a little town in south tejas, we just called each other brother. Shouldn’t that be enough?
Anytime I hear that song, I’ll remember that high-five, and I’ll smile. Just another snapshot. Next run, maybe I’ll listen to Something/Anything to remember that feeling again. You don’t appreciate what it’s like to be 18 with a broken heart until you look back on it too many years later. But when I make the turn and head for home, I’m switching to the Doobies. Because life must be a celebration. It just must. Second winds are where you find them. High-five Crazy Homeless Guys while you can. And maybe consider a new cap.
think of me ….