A Toast to Time

My mom asked me to go through some boxes while I was home, boxes of my life. She wondered if any of it might be thrown away; I said nope. Sitting on the shelf with the memories was a metal rack full of 45rpms - remember those? I used to buy those things for .99, much like my kids buy iTunes today, except for the fact that I went to an actual store and felt the actual record sleeves and was surrounded by other actual kids all monitored by an actual clerk with an ELO t-shirt on who didn't care if we peeked at those racy Black Oak Arkansas covers...

Anyway, I took the rack of nostalgia over to the record player and started spinning the old lang syne. My lord. The Moody Blue's Gemini Dream; Steve Winwood's While You See A Chance; Survivor's Eye of the Tiger; Mellencamp's Jack and Diane; and of course, Fogelberg's Old Lang Syne. There was just something right about seeing the slow descent of the needle and then that snack, crackle, pop as the vinyl slowly bled the magic. Yeah, I'm not sure my analog heart is going to make the digital conversion...they may have to pry my cold, dead fingers from my rabbit ears...

Auld Lang Syne
. Good old days. That's where the music took me. Just for a moment I was back at school, back to grade school and jr. high and high school and monogrammed sweaters and Levi 501s and reading A Separate Peace and bus trips to football games and scrubbing your face so the acne didn't go ape on you and carrying a long handled comb in your back pocket and braces and Members Only jackets and lifting weights so you wouldn't be so skinny and sitting behind Misty Bedford in algebra class while thinking about everything but sine and co-sine and going to the army surplus store to buy fatigues for $3 and sitting on the steps of Pine Street Jr. High after lunch just trying to be cool and drinking raw eggs like Rocky did and Ocean Pacific t-shirts and dancing like a white guy (step forward, step back, step forward, step back) and pep rallies and driving a '67 Chevy pickup with a column shift and a boom box strapped to the top of the seat and picking out 45rpms at the record store...

Some of those boxes my mom asked me to look through did have things in them that could've been thrown away, things some would consider trash. But I want to keep it all, the good and the bad, for it's my life. Some of those music induced good old days were actually days of pain and suffering: all Misty Bedford wanted me for was algebra answers; the weights and raw eggs never transformed me into Rocky; the braces were, well, metal railroads on my teeth my senior year of high school. But I want to keep it all; it's my life, my story.

The temptation on days such as New Year's Eve is to get all gussied up on Korbel and convert our analog lives to digital; clean 'em up so there's nothing but the pretty and wake up to a New Year with eyes glazed over with pastels. That temptation may be greater than ever this year as we're all about to embark on something called change. Now please know that I've no problem with a little escapism; I watched Mama Mia last night for pete's sake. But I want to resist that temptation today and I pray the same for you. As hard as it may be, I pray we all have some time, if just for a moment, to let the needle pull the snap, crackle, pop out of the vinyl of our lives and remember where we've been. I know what folks say, but I'm not sure any of us know where we're going; that's the huckster's selling stance for the future - nobody's been there yet, so everything is plausible. But most of us know where we've been, the lives we've lived and who we've become in the living of those days. And if I or you or we should remember that old familiar pain, then so be it. It reminds us that once, we were here...

: The frontier moves with the sun and pushes the Red Man of these wilderness forests in front of it until one day there will be nowhere left. Then our race will be no more, or be not us.
Hawkeye: That is my father's sadness talking.
Chingachgook: No, it is true. The frontier place is for people like my white son and his woman and their children. And one day there will be no more frontier. And men like you will go too, like the Mohicans. And new people will come, work, struggle. Some will make their life. But once, we were here.


  1. Oh, John, you know how I LOVE a post with a song lyric title (especially from one of my fave musicians ever)...I've told you before (even though I'm not that much younger than you) that I love all things music, even beyond my years and I too remember my 45s...I bought them from Turtles and saved my stamps in my booklet for a discount down the road...

    I have boxes like that too and can't bring myself to touch ANY thing in them...when I do look through them I feel silly (letters to a boy), sadness (letters to an alcoholic mother), pride (report cards) and everything in between!

    I was cracking up over the Ocean Pacific shirts and Members Only Jackets (mine was purple, thank you)! Man, memories can be salt in the wound or salve for the soul but I love them either way!

    Here's to a happy new year to you and that wonderful family of yours (that I wished lived next door to me) and to year of analog bliss :)!

    we drank a toast to innocence, we drank a toast to now...

  2. Hey J--you forgot to mention that Xanadu record.

  3. Mercy, this was a goody...

    I feel somehow compelled to share that the first Christmas Big and I were dating (1984), he bought me some earrings (still have), some Jelly Bellys, and 2 45s. One of them was "We Belong" by Pat Benetar, and I'd have to check my old magnetic photo albums, but I think the other one was "Eye of the Tiger." Of course now, as elderly people, we simply play Guitar Hero to "EOTT".

    And OMG, I loved Fogelberg. Sang him and sang him and sang him in college, and even got to see him at Red Rocks. Also saw the Indigo Girls there...go ahead and be jealous.

    I have no fancy way to say this except: I think your writing is really neat.

    God's blessings to you and your wonderful fam in 2009.

  4. Anonymous12:55 AM

    Thanks for the encouragement to REMEMBER -- how easily I forget.