Inspired by WordPress’ Daily Prompt on music and memory: http://dailypost.wordpress.com/2014/03/02/prompt-remind-me/
Apart from smell, music has to be the most powerful memory trigger. Transported to another place and time, you find yourself flooded with feelings, images, and vivid recollections. It’s one of those magic things about life.
One such memory came back to me…
Sometime in the early 1990s. Sun glinting off aviator glasses. My mom’s used, beat up Dodge Omni (stick-shift), which she never learned how to use. Me in the back seat. Two cool dudes in the front.
It was summer and I was being (happily) shipped to Nova Scotia for my summer vacation with my grandmother in her seaside cottage. I looked forward to the trip every year: the smell of melting marshmallow as Rice Krispie treats baked in the oven of an old, sunny kitchen with peeling linoleum floors. Gutting freshly-caught mackerel in the cellar sink, to be fried in a cast-iron pan for brunch. Seashell and mussel-hunting. Diving into the attic to see what trinkets and treasures could be found. The smell of sweetgrass and salt water. Paradise, by any measure.
I couldn’t have been more than 8 years old. This time was going to be particularly special: I was going to be riding with The Uncles, who had been visiting my parents in Montreal.
A quick bio on The Uncles (two of many on my mother’s side):
“Ian” : military man since leaving home at the age of 16. Had traveled the world. Major drinking problem, but I was unaware of all those grown-up things at the time. To me, he was simply my cool, dark-eyed uncle with long lean legs and a killer tan, who knew everything about our heritage and the sea: where to get the best berries, how to bait your fishing hook, and should you forget to keep the safety on when you cast your line and got a hook caught in your flesh, how to get it out. A storyteller.
“Paul” : ex-military. Cool stories about being stationed in Germany. A soft and gentle manner, with kind blue eyes and sandy hair to match his temperament. On the quiet side but a real joker when he did speak. Always up to shenanigans, causing me hilarious torment. (Pack of playing cards in hand: “Hey kiddo, you ever played pick up the kids from school?” “No Uncle Paul! How do you play?!” *Proceeds to throw deck all over the ground.* I obliged and picked up the ‘kids’). Lover of German beer.
We set off very early in the morning, ready to take on the 13 hour drive to the East Coast. Adventure. Excitement that only a child can feel, butterflies bursting out of my stomach. Cooler packed with egg and onion sandwiches. Cans of Coca Cola. Sun rising. Thrill.
Somewhere along the way, maybe near the Gaspé, or the border of New Brunswick, I understandably started getting antsy. Only maybe 4 hours into a 13 hour trip, this was a bit of an issue. This was before the time of back seat DVDs, and I didn’t have a gameboy, and though I loved to read, I was and still am of the unfortunate ilk who suffer carsickness. Thus, the scanning commenced. What on earth is in this old car that can keep me amused? Locate: glove compartment. Focus: blank cassette tape. BINGO.
Pop it in, and out it pours….
ROUND ROUND GET AROUND I GET AROUND (yeah) GET AROUND (woooooooooooo) I GET AROUUUUUND….
This was simply the best music ever. I mean, I had heard the song before, but now I was listening to it, speeding down a highway with two of the coolest dudes imaginable. Hot sun beating on the tin roof. Windows rolled down. Smokes smoking. Coke cans sweating. FREEDOM. Turn the cassette over. Again. We were heading down to the ocean, listening to the Beach Boys.
I couldn’t get enough. Again and again the cassette played. Each time I asked, they just turned it over. Popped it back in. Played it again. For. the. entire. trip. Doting Uncles that they were (and still are), they didn’t refuse me once. Until we arrived, exhausted, weary, and Beach-Boyed out after the sun had set over the Atlantic Ocean. To the welcoming arms of my grandmother I ran, elated despite my fatigue, ready to start my beloved summer holidays.
I don’t know how The Uncles survived that one. Probably had to have a few extra beers that night. But that memory will always, always put a smile on my face.
This one’s for you guys.