The echos of my youth move through my head like the Kansas wind.
As I’m sitting here at 3:15 a.m. listening to Chris Isaak’s Greatest Hits, my mind is more active than my arthritic hands searching for the keys on my keyboard. I can’t sleep, even though I know sleep would be best.
It’s funny how my mind can take me to places I’ve never been and just as quickly, take me to a place where I can see the half-dozen used Pepsi cups from the pool hall lying on the floor behind the passenger seat of my ’72 Dodge Charger. One cup inside the other, cruising Main street, Doobie Brothers on the 8-Track while my arm rested on a pillow I had between the bucket seats. This pillow fit perfectly on the console and I’m not sure if anyone knew but on the flip-side of that pillow it had “I Love You” sewn on it. I have some random stuff from my youth but I’m not sure where that pillow went. Now it’s 3:30 a.m. and I wonder why head isn’t on a pillow right now. Wow, that was random.
Maybe this sleepless night is my mind’s way of telling me to remember those insignificant slices of my life, those screen-door-slamming-shut moments when you couldn’t walk pass a rock, empty can or dandelion without kicking it. Yeah, we’ve all been there. Come to think of it, I still can’t resist.
It’s possible these random thoughts are just what I need to take place of all current worries and hurries of every day life. To smile at a memory or spend time trying to figure out why these reflections have come to surface isn’t time wasted. There aren’t any dandelions in the yard right now but I may find that perfect rock for kicking today.
I know since the 1970’s things have changed, but really some things never change. I still live in the same small town, and I don’t really feel different different, so I suppose from the outside looking into my life some would think the opposite. Being a teenager in this mile-long town didn’t require much effort at all. I knew everyone and everyone knew me, so as in many small towns, the news of what you did usually beat you home. For the most part, everyone just got along and we grew up without much drama.
Saturday nights were predictable as you would either have a date or maybe you would just hang out with all your friends in front of the pool hall. Four blocks of Main Street kept the cars cruising back and forth and even though you passed Russ or Richard or any one of your classmates or friends out cruising, you would still give the “country wave.” There was usually a crowd in town on those Saturday nights, and after everyone had gone to the movies or out to eat we would always end up back on Main Street in White City going up and down that brick four blocks. You didn’t want to miss anything so you kept an eye on where everyone was and without the luxury of cell phones, we actually talked face to face with one another-or waved. Go figure…
Once in a while we would head out East to the edge of town and make a U-turn far from those pesky street lights of main. There was a stop sign there and as you turned around you could see my house. That house still stands and it brings me back to a time when life was moving at a slower pace-you know like cruising four blocks in my Dodge Charger and making endless U-turns, your girlfriend by your side listening to Chicago on the 8-track.
But it has to end sometime and she needs to be home at midnight, so using the old math problem “if one train leaves the station at 3:15 traveling at 60 m.p.h. and a second train leaves the station at 4:20…” we hurry back to her house to stay in good graces with her folks. Remember, we need to be able to go out next Saturday night and getting grounded puts a damper on things. We pull into the drive, shut the car off and kiss goodnight, just waiting for the porch light to flash on and off indicating the evening is over, or that my watch was wrong. Just one more minute and one more kiss. It was hard to let go of her to say goodnight even though I knew I would always see her again. I hated the drive home alone but it was always a good night. Sunday, with a little bit of luck, I could find myself at her place to share the afternoon.
Looking back at those days I realize this small town made me the guy I am today. I still do the “country wave” when a car passes by me, whether I know who it is or not, and Saturday nights aren’t quite as exciting as they used to be. I wish I still had that Charger and who knows where it might be. But whoever has it must know that every four blocks that Charger travels it wants to turn around. Some things never change.