Saturday, January 07, 2012


Janie's sleeping in the other room, cats gathered all around her.  The dog is at my feet, and music plays softly in the background.

Specifically, Music Choice, courtesy of my local cable channel.  The choices are broken down according to genres and moods or, in this case, eras--I've got Seventies Gold playing, for no better reason than the hope some song will unexpectedly pop up that sparks a frisson of recognition, conjures a memory so vivid that it can't be shaken.

Because I haven't been having any of those lately.  Last Saturday, for instance, was the seventeenth anniversary of my wedding day.  The fact that the marriage has been dead for years is beside the point--it was still a milestone in my life, and you'd think, given my nature, I'd spend time ruminating over loss, impermanence, regret, what have you--that's what I do here, after all, to the extent I do anything at all.

Instead, it flashed through my mind once as I sat down to watch New Year's Rockin' Eve and that was that.  A good thing, I suppose, moving on and all that, but again, it just doesn't seem like me.  I obsess over things that were that will never be again.  A passing shrug?  Is that all I've got?  Really?

I'm eating Fudge Rounds and drinking Sprite for breakfast (because what's the point of living to adulthood if you can't do everything you wanted when you were six?) and when I finish, I take my empty glass to the kitchen.  Suddenly the mellow horn intro to the Bee Gees' Too Much Heaven wafts from the TV, and it happens.  I have a vivid memory of this song drifting from the radio as my brother John and I drove down 141 heading from the farm to Des Moines on yet another record-buying spree.  I'd just seen Brian DePalma's Obsession on TV, with its great, brooding Bernard Herrmann score, and I knew Music Den in Merle Hay Mall had the soundtrack, because I knew everything they had in regular stock, and where everything was, the details assembling in my head with remarkable clarity...

...Until CLANG!  Isabella has used her front paw to flip her water dish upside down, and it hits the linoleum with a reverie-shattering sound.  She looks at me, head tilted, tail wagging, big brown eyes in full-out soulful mode.  "You're in the kitchen," she seems to say.  "That means snacks, right?  I love snacks.  Also, I seem to have spilled my water.  Can you do something about that?"

As I get out a biscuit, refill the water and give the dog a big hug, the Bee Gees fade to background noise, and I realize any vivid memories of thirteen-year-old me are...well, only memories.  They matter, sure, but they don't--can't--define me.  Isabella scampers off, perfectly satisfied, briefly chasing Delmar and Staley, who'd come to the kitchen to see what all the noise was about.  I move quietly back to the bedroom and rest my head next to Janie, glad that I've learned to live in the here and now.