"Poor Man's House" is playing on our television, which is hooked up to our Xbox 360, which in turn is connected to our family laptop. That's a lot hardware, a lot of gigs and IP addresses and 1's and 0's flying around, all so I can watch a slide show of my kids' summer fun. After all the horsin' around with the machines, I got THEM to do what I want. Now playing - "Let My Love Open the Door" by Pete Townsend. Ah... bliss. On the screen, Ms. Odds vamping with a good buddy. My heart swells, my eyes water, and I leave the present, traveling back to August and then even further back.
When Patty Griffin sang "Poor Man's House" to me for the first time, Mrs. Odd and I were driving a green Tercel around the hills and mountains of Vermont, without a penny or a care. Even while I sit on our couch on this fine October day, nursing yet another injury, watching hi-def pictures of the little Odds make tie-dye t-shirts and catch frogs scroll by, I feel the Vermont sun on my arm, as its rests on the window sill of the Tercel. I'm here today and there, too, almost sixteen years ago. We never called the Tercel by its name; it was the "tersil" and we thought that great humor. The "tersil" wasn't around a few years later when we first watched "Grosse Point Blank" and heard Pete Townsend sing his acoustic version of "Let My Love...", but I remember so clearly cranking the soundtrack in our little rented bungalow, just about the time we found out soon-to-be Ms. Odd was going to join us. Who says time travel is impossible? Hmmmm?
I'm now watching piles of stones, mounded up to serves as landmarks for hikers, also know as cairns. With the clear New Hampshire sky in the background, as blue as blue can be, the yellow lichen glows like gold, the granite dark and strong. The cairns aren't designed, per se, but each has a personality and uniqueness, a sculpture of sorts. Nature did the lion's share of the work, the many and anonymous hands of hikers merely arranging the stones, one a top another, for the sole purpose of helping the next hiker to his or her destination. Now playing - Jason Mraz's "Curbside Prophet" is lightly yammering and fibbidy-dibbidy-blibbidying along, throwing me back just seven or eight years back, driving to and fro outside Baltimore. Little Odd had joined up by now, and our foursome was gaining traction. Oh, and here comes James Blunt and "High", which steers me west, out to West Virginia. The picture in my mind's eye isn't available on the current slide show, but it is as bright in vivid in my memory as any on the screen - bright gold, red, and orange leaves and five beautiful kids, throwing leaves and laughing and eager to be. Just to be.
Crash Test Dummies singing "Superman's Song"... I loved the Dummies cause I can approximate the lead singer's deep, rough baritone. Seventeen year's ago, living with Ed and Mary, two goldfish Mrs. Odd and her friend Meg rescued from a coi pond before it froze. They would travel with us to Vermont, north from our little garage apartment, riding in a cooler in the front seat of a U-Haul moving truck I drove over the Middlebury Gap in a thunder storm. I remember looking up, perhaps an hour later, into the wide expanse of the dark night sky, watching a meteor streak from west to east. Our wedding was only weeks away, Mrs. Odd already setting up house in a barn. Yep, a barn. Ed and Mary weathered the trip just fine, out living half a dozen or more store-bought fish. They had quite nice little run, until we got sick of cleaning the filter, and let 'em loose in Lake Champlain. God, I hope they didn't breed.
Wrapping up this post with "Under Pressure" by Queen and David Bowie. There are no pictures on the screen, and this brings up my oldest memory, gray and hazy. I'm walking from school to my part-time job vacuuming floors in a women's clothing store, with my Walkman on. I had no idea what lay ahead. Funny thing is, I still don't. I just hope the songs keep playing.