Throw Back Thursday

 – Scorpions – Wind of Change – 

I think that I’ve mentioned that The Dane and I have a music date night.  We don’t do it every week.  Really, there’s no rhyme or reason for when these particular date nights pop up.  They just do.

In our office, we sit in an L shape to each other.  He usually starts by trying to find an updated version of an old song.  He loves a good cover (like this cover of Boston’s More Than a Feeling).  I tend to stick to the original tunes as there is usually some little something that I call the “wobbliness” that goes with the original singers voice that I miss when it’s a cover.  Like the way John Fogerty sings the word “shoes” in Centerfield. 

I think it was Dick Clark that said that music is the soundtrack of our lives.  Wholeheartedly I believe this.  I can catch a tune on the radio and suddenly I’m transported in time to some event that is strongly tied to the song.  For example, I am not a huge Steely Dan fan; however, one particularly rainy night, I slipped into a Del Taco for a bite.  I don’t remember what I had, only that it was late and I had the dining room to myself.  I remember watching the rain and that overhead, Steely Dan’s Peg was playing.   I don’t have any idea why that memory is so strong.  Nothing particularly interesting happened, yet every time I hear that song, I’m transported right back to that empty Del Taco with the rain pouring down outside.

And this picture…it was taken at a hotel in Atlanta.  My classmates and I were at a FBLA convention.  Michael Jackson was all the rage (in fact he was singing on the radio when this picture was taken).  I met Hershal Walker that day (if you grew up in Georgia during the 80s, you KNOW that was a big deal) and that night I learned that I love to dance.  That wasn’t Michael though, that was Prince!

During that time, a particular weekend night might find me at the Georgia Theater in Athens, Ga jumping on lighted blocks while singing REM’s Superman or hunting down the right bar so we could see The White Animals.

I grew up in the 80’s and am definitely a product of that time.  The first time I went to college, I majored in Political Science and minored in History.  It was an interesting time to be alive.  It was very powerful for me.  The Cold War was in full swing.  All of us worried about nuclear war in a way that I don’t think people do today.  I recall I had a poster on my wall of Check Point Charlie.  It was a disturbing image to some, as I remember that a lot of my friends couldn’t understand why I’d want to be reminded of it every single day.  I remember the day well that Ronald Reagan made the “Tear down this wall” speech.  After the speech, I recall wiping tears from my eyes and a sense of relief washed over me that finally there would be freedom.

A few years later, some friends and I were down at the lake.  It was a quiet night and getting late.  On the other side of the lake, someone was playing a radio.  Clear and crisp, the Scorpions’ Wind of Change began to play.  I stood up.  A warm summer breeze began to blow.  I remember feeling it across my face.  The song drew me to the edge of the water and I stood there as it played.  My friends fell silent behind me.  One by one, they joined me by the water’s edge as we listened to the haunted whistling fill the air around us as if it had become the very wind itself.  Even now, that memory sends chills down my spine.  I remember as I stood there, I was proud to be an American and I understood the freedom I enjoyed on a very profound level.

Through the years since that moment, things changed directions for me.  The AIDS epidemic made me rethink my choices and put me on the road to nursing school.  And since then, our country has taken many twists and turns making the day and age we live in now quite different from the one that existed the night my friends and I stood on that water’s edge. 

I came from a small town.  In that town, there were Presbyterians, Episcopalians, Methodists and Baptists. When I first registered to vote, you pretty much had to register Democrat, or there wouldn’t have been anyone for you to vote for because nobody ran on a Republican ticket.  For a while in high school, I was a poll worker.  At the precinct where I worked, there was only one couple registered as Republican and I remember how they hovered together when they came to vote.  I’m pretty sure they knew better than I did how out-of-place they were.

I recall that there was a Jewish family there and possibly there were Catholics since there is a Catholic church in my hometown.  I’ve never been there and have never known anyone who has. 

It wasn’t until I was in college that I began to be curious about all manner of things…other religions, cultures, places.  I used to spend some of my weekends going home with friends to learn about them.  I appreciated that there were differences and I loved that we were.  I didn’t always agree with my friends and I recall very spirited debates on all manner of topics.  What I learned during that time was that meeting new people and learning from them opened up the world for me in very strange and unbelievably beautiful ways.  I experienced a ton of things that I wouldn’t have otherwise – met a man in the gay community that changed my life, went to a traditional Mexican dinner, attended a Jewish circumcision party, joined a political campaign, went to a Revival at a black church, ran away from a Pentecostal church when the snakes came out, attended a catholic mass spoken in Latin (didn’t understand a single word), went to High Tea once and made a complete ass of myself.  Every experience laid a foundation for something that came later and I wouldn’t trade any of that experience for the world.

Today, it saddens me that as a people, we have become intolerant of each other.  We have forgotten the beauty of learning and exploring differences of opinion, while spouting out the word diversity as if just by saying it makes it so.  It doesn’t. 

Tomorrow night, I’m going to call up one of my friends and take them up on going to that Hookah bar.  I think it’s time to go back out there and find some interesting people to argue with.

~PJ

 

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