I have always thought it would be great to, one day, go on a trip and if the urge hit me... just "stay on". There have been many times I wished I could have done this but there were carpools to be driven, homework to monitor, dogs to walk, classes to teach or take... all demanding my presence back home. "Staying on" was not an option, time wise or wallet wise...until a few weeks ago. No, I didn't win the lottery but I did come to a realization. For the first time in 36 years... I didn't have to go home. TJ was out of town all week and with no dog at home praying on my guilty conscience for leaving her alone too long, I was free to roam the planet. I went to Baton Rouge for a weekend and stayed an extra day, because I could. We went to Austin and spontaneously added another day. It was a weather related extra day but no arrangements had to be made for anyone or anything back home. The ability to "stay on" is suddenly a reality. I kind of like it and in a way I don't.
Driving to and from Baton Rouge over the years has provided me with many opportunities to reminisce...5 hours... each way. As I approach Baton Rouge, I tune into the local classic rock station and inevitably they are playing tunes from my high school or college days. The memories start to flood back and I find myself geographically and mentally transported to my youth. Two of my favorite things.... youth and music! Listening to Fleetwood Mac or the Eagles on the radio makes the final approach (while sitting in Mississippi River bridge traffic) almost bearable. At least my mind is somewhere else having a great time with high school friends or in college at a bar... not studying accounting.
Now that I have my new car, equipped with SiriusXM radio, I am no longer limited to local radio stations that fade in and out over the roadways. I found Comedy USA keeps me awake when the monotony of I-10 starts to bore me to sleep. Most importantly, I found The Bridge (no pun intended) and anyone who was in high school or college in the 70's needs to give it a listen. I had a flashback to the spring of 1975 and my senior trip when they played Sister Golden Hair, Tin Man or anything by America . We were driving home to Baton Rouge in a van with shag carpet, wearing sunburns and smiles all the way home. I remembered awkward middle school slow dancing when Color My World was played. The Doobie Brothers' China Grove or Oh Black Water brought me back to riding around in the family station wagon (sorry Mom and Dad) with my friends getting into all sorts of mischief. Emerson, Lake and Palmer's Lucky Man was "make out" music back in the day. Any song by Fleetwood Mac sends me to an outdoor concert dancing barefoot in the grass or to that bar I spent way too many hours not studying. Every song brings back a different memory! It's like a 5 hour flashback!
One of the thoughts that floated through my mind during my flashback was that in my writing class I had so much trouble retrieving childhood memories, when all I needed to do was listen to the music. One thought lead to another, that happens sometimes, and since I didn't need to get home for anything... I took a little side trip to my childhood on my way home. We lived in Beaumont, Texas from the time I was 4 until I turned 13. Impressionable years that are a blur. I drove past the two houses we lived in over those 9 years. Thanks to my very smart phone and the maps app I was able to find my way to each. The environs have changed quite a bit in 45 years. The houses look great! It would have been so sad to see them neglected. My childhood has been preserved. And yes, driving down the old streets brought the memories flooding back!
|I slept here...right next to the window on the left.|
|I'm sure the neighbors were wondering|
who the stalker was taking pictures of this house.