This morning, after the kids left for school, and my husband left for work, and I cleared the knives, and the toaster, and the spice rack off the counter so that I could scrub down the kitchen, I had a sudden urge to listen to Blondie.
I rarely listen to music while I clean. Maybe because I’m moving around the house too much and we don’t have a good setup for making music audible from every room. But today I thought I’d be a little wild, tear down the walls of my rigid routine, and blare music from my childhood while I degreased the stove. I seeded a new Pandora station with Blondie, pulled on my purple rubber gloves, and ended up on the beach at Tybee Island, on the living room floor watching MTV, in the basement for Breakfast Club marathons, at the skating rink, and in Athens, Georgia, for every college football season of my childhood.
The Tide is High by Blondie: I am seven, and the sun iss hot on the tops of my shoulders. A fine grit sticks to the back of my little girl legs as I sit at the edge of a tide pool and make drip castles from wet sand. I smell suntan oil – the coconut kind that comes out of those brown Hawaiian Tropic bottles – and salt water and warmth and beer. I listen to the pssfft of pull tabs being pulled off aluminum cans, the swishing of waves at the ocean’s edge, the muffled murmur of my parents talking and laughing with friends while they lie oiled in the sun on those tri fold lounge chairs with the plastic strips that leave stripes on the backs of your legs if you don’t put a towel down first. The grown ups open more beers – pssfft – and then push those curled, sharp metal tabs into the cans so they won’t cut anyone’s feet. Blondie comes on the 95.5 FM and is broadcast across the tan sands of Tybee from the radio sitting on the beach between my parents’ chairs.
Take on Me by A-Ha: I am in lying on my belly in our living room. The living room in the house we lived in when MTV launched. The living room with the fireplace and the carpet and the wood paneled walls where I spent pre-teen summers glued to MTV, watching this video, with the pencil sketch comic that comes to life, pulling a live action woman into it from the diner booth she sits in when she reads the comic. Twenty-five years later, it is impossible for me to hear this song without seeing the animated sketches in my mind, from that summer when I was 12, when our adolescent minds were blown open by the radical merging of music and video.
Don’t You (Forget About Me) by Simple Minds: I am 13, and I am with the girlfriends I grew up with. The girlfriends that I came of age with, who rode around Savannah together in a robin’s egg blue convertible VW beetle, who smoked cigarettes and drank coffee, who laughed and experimented and wrote and painted and danced and acted. Who penned letters to each other with every heartbreak, every melodrama, every milestone. Who are married and have children now. Who I still get together with once a year for an annual Girls’ Weekend. With whom, at the very beginning of all that growing up, I spent endless slumber parties watching The Breakfast Club, memorizing every word, giggling over how cute Judd Nelson is, singing this song at the top of our lungs.
You Dropped a Bomb on Me by The Gap Band: Strobe lights flashing. Disco ball spinning. Shooting the duck on roller skates, racing as fast as we we can around the oval, adrenaline rushing with the speed as we pick one skate up and cross it in front of the other around the turns. At the snack bar, rolling our skates back and forth while we buy Charleston Chews. Standing against the carpeted wall chewing our candy while we watch cute boys skate backwards fast, hoping one of them will ask us to couple skate the next time Careless Whisper comes on.
We Will Rock You by Queen: Athens, Georgia. September. I am five, and six, and seven, eight, and nine. We leave Grandaddy and Nannie’s house in Eatonton, Georgia, and my Dad honks the “Glory Glory” fight song horn as we drive away. Grandaddy and Nannie wave from the top of the hill. We pick up fried chicken for tailgating as we enter Athens, and once we park, and disembark from the car, we become droplets in a red and black sea of shirts and hats and pants and earrings and cars and trucks. I smell burgers, and beer, cigarette smoke, and perfume. I hear the familiar pssfftt of pull tabs, Southern drawls, laughter and “Go Dawgs!” I hear Queen blaring from a car in the parking lot. Maybe it’s ours. And again, in the stadium, we hear it. At the beginning of the game, or maybe after a touchdown, or maybe just in my memory, we stamp our feet and pump our fists and sing “We Will Rock You” at the top of our lungs.
It’s funny how music and memory can be so tightly woven. Thanks Blondie. This was the funnest (and most memorable) cleaning day I’ve had yet.
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