Saturday, February 03, 2007

You Can't Go Home Again (But You Can Drive Past)

This afternoon I listened to an NPR interview with a composer who has written the music for over 500 films. Driving my car through the woods at twilight, one of his scores swelling to a climax, I felt every inch the heroine of a romantic drama. (It doesn't take much, does it?)

Anyway, I was reminded of an experience I had in 2003:

The road was wet black with yellow leaves under my tires, the woods grey on either side. Warm air and Saint-Saen's "The Swan" poured into the car as cold raindrops hit the glass of the roof. Listening to both, I felt like a player in a movie, one where the heroine speeds off on a dark day to meet an old love. In a way, that’s what I was doing, although we can forget the heroine part. That day an afternoon appointment took me past the little house Joe and I bought in 1968, the weekend place that introduced us to Pennsylvania, living in the country, and all that came with it.

I drove down the roads we covered so many times in those early years. I saw a few familiar landmarks, and more changes than I could possibly count at 50 mph, or at any speed. It was an otherworldly trip, for in fact my head was in another world entirely, a world where we looked forward to Friday and dreaded Monday, a world where we made the decision to leave the city and live everyday among trees and birds and gardens, a world that brought us our first baby and the promise of more.

I made the turn up the hill to our first home, passing house after house where there used to be only three, and coming at last to the familiar hip-roofed structure. The roof, and parts of the garage that Joe built, were all I recognized. Our charcoal house is a pastel shade now, with chalet-type windows and doors. The garage sports a window box filled with plastic flowers. But even as my eyes took in the strange details, my lips whispered, “It’s so small…so small.”

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