Saturday, September 6, 2008

Playing from memory

An interesting thing happened on the way home from work tonight.

I had my iPod plugged into the car stereo and my music library set on shuffle. The first song to play, dragged from gigabytes of tunes, was "Angel," by Aerosmith.

And within the space of a couple of power chords, I was...

... in grade school. On a school bus. Headed across Kansas to Hutchinson, where our field trip would touch down at the Kansas Cosmosphere. Seriously: This was a crystalline memory. I was two-thirds of the way back, on the passenger side. Listening to the radio on a Walkman with weakening batteries.

Both the young and older Gerry Doyles wanted to climb into this thing.

And that got me thinking, too, about all the people who were on that bus with me. I remain close with some of them, still, even 20-plus years later. What were we all thinking that day on I-70? I planned to be an astronaut and turned out a writer. Others hewed more closely to their dreams and got involved with law, politics, art or science. But I think we were all happy that day.

Anyway, what does this wool-gathering tell us? That sometimes tiny envirnomental details--like a song--stick in your head more thoroughly than you expect. And years later, when you're not even thinking about it... you're right back where you started.

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