They're bad songs, most of them--Macho Man, Hold The Line, Two Out Of Three Ain't Bad--but they still get played with alarming frequency, in department stores or waiting rooms or dozens of different places. They're just sort of there, part of the collective consciousness.
Yet hearing them now, in pristine digital sound, doesn't seem right. These songs were made to be heard on AM radio. Specifically, they should be wafting from a transistor radio carried by someone on the bus, or the tinny factory speakers in my brother's Chevette. I should be moving forward, past endless barren cornfields, the sky overcast, all branches bare.
Where would I be going? To school, to a movie, simply for a ride? No matter. The important thing is, sooner or later, I would be returning to the house where I lived, to the fuel-oil stove and a casserole-based dinner, to the 19" Quasar which was always on, even when nobody was watching, to the sounds of conversation. Whatever I was doing, eventually I'd go home.
What was I? Twelve? At that age, I still seemed to be living the life I always had, the life I assumed would continue. It seemed as though the warmth and comfort of this particular place would always exist. Yeah, sure, there was a wider world out there, and some day I'd be hurled into it, but that was so far away it was beyond imagination. This was my life, my world.
Things changed. Gradually at first, and I tried to hold tight to the only things I knew. Soon enough, though, the ground erupted and I fell, consumed by overpowering depression , unable to function in any meaningful way until my late twenties. Then I got better. Sort of. I reentered the world.
Marriage. Divorce. Sleepless nights and the occasional doomed relationship. Another relationship, this one I thought for real, but it ended, too. My dad died, and my oldest brother, then Mom. That home I once knew was well and truly gone. Images from the past would blip into my brain and I'd chase them away, unable to process them.
Through it all, I endured. I found a path and took it, winding up here, with a house of my own, three cats and a dog. And Janie, of course, who accepts me for what I am, even when I burst into song for no particular reason. There are familiar rituals, constant conversation, things to do. There are ups and downs, but through it all, there is love.
At long, long last, when I walk through the door every night, it feels like coming home.