I hear this song and suddenly I’m cruising down the street I grew up on in my electric blue ’93 Chevy Beretta with a carload of my fellow high school cheerleaders, windows down because the air conditioning was broken (or, actually, never really worked), letting the easy breeze that comes from hitting 40 MPH between stop signs relieve us from the soupy mid-July air of Southern Ohio. We’d spent the weeks since school let out practicing non-stop in preparation for the cheerleading competition at the county fair, and now that the fair was over we were relishing our free time. However, we soon realized that there wasn’t much for a bunch of 16-year-olds to do with so much free time and so little cash; at 78¢/gallon, a tank of gas split four-ways would give us hours of fun doing what all the other teens did on hot summer afternoons: cruising.
Those afternoons cruising in a wide, distorted loop around the eight or ten blocks of town, represented some of the only typical teenage behavior I can remember. Aside from the fact that we were all cheerleaders, I didn’t have much in common with my cruising pals. I’d never really dated–in fact, never been kissed–while they were completely boy-crazy, hopping from one “relationship” to another. At parties I preferred to get a nice sugar buzz from too much Pepsi so that I could remember all the sloppy, embarrassing antics my more inebriated friends might pull, though always playing the good sober baby sitter who stops them from doing anything truly regrettable. I attended a fairly strict church, helped with Sunday School, and participated in the church’s bible quiz team on Sunday mornings while my friends slept in and slept off their Saturday night indiscretions. They were still my friends–great friends–and we got on with only a tiny bit of teasing for my Sandra Dee persona.
That summer we couldn’t get enough of The Bloodhound Gang–probably because none of us had CD players in our cars, so we were at the mercy of the repetitive playlist of the one radio station we could get in that wasn’t exclusively country music or gospel. The music of that summer always conjures up warm, happy memories, but this past winter on an unforgivably cold February morning, the droning repetition of The roof. The roof. The roof is on fire. had a cold, numbing effect as one of my old cheerleading friends and I sat in my living room watching her house across the street burn.
Who is your personal hero?
Write a personal essay about
your hero's accomplishments and
what makes that person a hero.
How many times did I write essays about my personal hero as I moved from big, clumsy letters scratched from an oversized pencil to smooth careful curves flowing from a ballpoint pen to awkwardly fumbling fingers on a computer keyboard? When I was a child my heroes were important adults in my life; they were people who had accomplished great feats, faced great fears, and overcome great obstacles. These were people whom I aspired to be like. Some might have called them role models, but to me they were much more. They were heroes. They are heroes, still–those still with me, those far away, and those gone but not forgotten.
My heroes were not generic, faceless do-gooders, nor were they impersonal figures in a book or on a television screen. They were real, tangible humans who made up my day-to-day experience. They had faces, names, quirks, flaws, shortcomings, blood, tears, voices, laughter. However familiar and close to me, they were at the same time years and years away because they were adults and I was a child. Their actions and their hero status were out of my reach, if only by a few years (or a few inches).
Now I am an adult, and, as such, a member of that vast pool of potential heroes. I’m casually aware of this when interacting with children and young adults, but became acutely aware of it yesterday listening to the President speak at the memorial for the soldiers tragically taken in the Fort Hood shooting last week.
“We need not look to the past for greatness, because it is before our very eyes.”
–President Barack Obama
November 10, 2009
Some things change so quickly it’s hard to keep track.
That’s a statement that can be taken in a million directions, many deep and profound. But what I’m thinking of today is popular music.
Multi-National Corps Iraq
My best friend has been in Iraq with the U.S. Army J.A.G. Corps since March. Living in the Internet age as we do, keeping in touch is much easier than it used to be. We can email and occasionally chat (though the time difference makes this difficult), which is great! It brings me back to the days when we would IM one another from our desks…which were in the same room in our college dorm!
We were chatting recently and I offered to send her my copy of The Time Traveler’s Wife which I’d read this summer. I mentioned that I hadn’t yet seen the movie, and she was unaware that it had been made into a movie. That’s when I realized how hard it must be to keep up with all the trivial entertainment news that bombards us everyday. Movies, book, music, trashy gossip–it’s all pretty small beans compared to the work she and other members of the armed forces are doing day-to-day.
But that doesn’t mean those things don’t still matter! Entertainment news–the latest releases, etc.–is the kind of fun release soldiers need to stay sane during long, tedious deployments. That’s why I’ve decided to send a great care package to help my buddy catch up on some of the essential entertainment she’s missed out on. Continue reading
Filed under Friends, Music