Another Sort of Travel

January 29, 2003


 One night someone (hmmm…wonder who?) had left the television on in my kitchen I was talking on the phone when I heard song clips drifting into the room. Songs I hadn’t heard in what felt like a hundred years.

It’s a Time-Life CD collection, and I don’t even hear the name of it; something country, I’m sure. Old country music.

“Please help me I’m falling,” plays in Hank Locklin’s voice, but in memory, it’s my dad’s gorgeous rich bass pouring out the words.

In the flash of a second, I am transported back to 1965, a house I lived in across the street from the Deaf and Blind School (I know that’s probably not what it’s called anymore, but in those days, it was) in Colorado Springs. I’m wearing pajamas and my feet are bare and my father is putting records on the little red and white record player, and he’s singing along with Jim Reeves and Faron Young and others whose names I’ve never known. There are Barbie dolls in my lap. I’m rolling my head in time. My dad has big, round arms from the hard work he does, and I know all the men in the world think my mother is beautiful because they always smile at her, and she likes to dance. My dad sings and she swings her hips and the three of us girls sing along, too, at the top of our voices.

Back in January 2003, the commercial plays Roger Miller’s “King of the Road”. I can see my grandpa, whose been gone four years now, with that lock of thick curly black hair on his young forehead, see his big, charming smile and watch him driving fast in his El Camino. I see the twinkle in his eye, see him flipping pancakes in the diner he owned for awhile.

I’ve never ordered a Time-Life anything in my life. It’s just past Christmas and I’ve just written a painful check for tuition and how many of those Top Number One Country Hits of the 50s, 60s and 70s will I really know? Probably only the ones they’re playing over and over to seduce me.

“Daddy Sang Bass” takes me to a Thanksgiving afternoon, driving in a cold, blowy day to my grandmother’s house for dinner. We’re all singing, but it’s my dad’s voice I love, his rich bass weaving through any song he cares to sing like a mink tail.

I’m picking up the phone, arguing with myself all the way. “Delta Dawn” comes on and I’m done. There I am with my sisters and mother, the four of us swinging and dancing and singing at the top of our voices. “Make the World Go Away” comes on as I’m giving my number, listening to up-sell after up-sell, and I spring for the fast delivery option.

Gotta tell you, they came in today’s mail and I’ve been listening for hours, sometimes laughing at the memories they bring back, sometimes a little teary-eyed. I’ve gotta take it over to my dad (he’ll sing, too, I just know it) and if my grandpa was still around, I’d play it for him, too. Maybe he’s listening, somewhere on the other side. Time travel. Cheap at triple the price.

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