Timing is Everything
I was looking back over Februarys past in the Fragments archives this morning. Three years ago this month, I remembered as I read, I was taking a course at Virginia Tech in the Appalachian Studies department, driving over three times a week in my quest to find myself on a map recently missing once-familiar landmarks.
And while I was browsing the archives, I saw I'd had a reader from Yemen. The reader had come from a musical rant on Chas Hill's blog. I pop over to see what might have brought someone from Yemen by way of Oklahoma City and see it is via a snippet that Chas quoted from Fragments--from February, 2003, it turns out coincidentally--and particularly about the need for benchmarks: metal plates set in solid rock that permanently orient us to the real world. I recount the experience from one of my drives to campus where I describe some metaphorical benchmarks from the music of an age:
The next song on the oldies station begins with the raucous sounds of seagulls. Not only do I instantaneously know what the song is going to be, but as the first words are sung, I nail the key perfectly, cueing in some unknown way from the unmelodic birdcalls. The Tymes are singing "So Much in Love" and so am I, and it is 1963, a fixed point in memory, rooted and grounded by the music of that sophomoric age. This is a metaphorical benchmark, it occurs to me as we stroll by the sea together under stars twinkling high above, and somehow my body pilots the car safely in the present, under overcast skies heavy with snow. The music of that year, not one particular song but taken all together, is embedded in rock with a brass plate, immutable, known, anchoring that time to this and me to that gangly fifteen-year-old who was becoming me.
There is a kind of cockeyed symmetry about life sometimes. How all this ties in with the here and now, I will have to leave for another hour and another blog post.