Tuesday, August 19, 2008

Into The Great Wide Open

There are certain moments, snippets of my past that, like sparkly ice sculptures in blinding sunlight, stop me in my tracks as if getting a punch to my solar plexus.

For some odd reason the following gem came to me today as I was speaking to someone I barely knew, about music tonight.

I was a young teen living in a log cabin in the mountains, without much access to the world, one station on the rabbit-eared tv, and a party line that wasn't meant for idle gabbing. My RadioShack Realistic clock radio, the kind where the numbers flipped like a rolodex, didn't get very good reception in the mountains. If it was overcast just right, and I hung it by its cord from the my hanging wicker chair that was chained to a beam from the rafters, I could get the top 40 countdown with Casey Casem on a Sunday night.

I remember the one Sunday evening as clearly as I'm typing this right now, actually clearer, when I was contorting the radio, and the song of my at the time short lifetime came on. Tom Petty and the Heartbreakers playing "Don't Do Me Like That" shot me like a bullet through my eardrums dazzling my brain. I didn't breathe or move through the whole song, standing holding my radio up like a weird little teen statue of liberty and waiting for Casey to tell me who it was. To celebrate, after waiting for my parents to fall asleep, I smoked half a cigarette I had stowed in my Lane miniature cedar chest, saved for special occasions such as this.

Since then, I've seen Tom Petty with and without the Heartbreakers, and one concert came close to the magic I imagined in Montana that night. It was pouring rain at the Shoreline Ampitheater, but Tom Petty played anyway. He kept thanking the crowd for coming out that night. It didn't stop raining the entire time he played, but us girls came prepared with rain gear and baseball hats. We sang Freefalling at the top of our drunken lungs and I was thankful no one could notice my tears in the rain.

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