The past two mornings, I've arisen in the morning with a haunting tune ringing in my brain:
It has stuck with me for many years and I don't know why. I remember hearing it the first time at about 8 years old. I recall really listening to the words as I waited in a car outside K-Mart with my cousins. My uncle had gone in the store for something. It was raining and the heater was on full blast. I remember thinking the man's voice was quite nice. I started thinking about flying away myself. It sounded pretty good at the moment.
I love my cousins, don't get me wrong. But spending time with them always felt like a dangerous adventure. They were older than me and fond of pranks. My uncle, their father, was a somewhat unpredictable man, who often ran out of gas. When this would happen, he would strip to his running shorts and jog to the nearest filling station to get more gas. I'm not sure if it was because he was broke most of the time, forgetful, or just the kind of guy who liked any excuse to go for a run. Maybe it was a combination of the above. Maybe it didn't happen as often as I remember. At any rate, when I was with them, I was always at least 20% in fear for my safety.
This was a rather high fear threshold for me. I was an only child and my parents are very conscientious. I don't ever remember them running out of gas. They probably did at some point and I've forgotten because I always felt safe with them.
For many years, I resented the time spent with my uncle and cousins. I felt that my parents were being highly irresponsible, putting me in the care of mad people. But now, I look back at those days rather fondly. Without them, I would never know what it was like to just hop in the car on a whim to go to Cedar Point or Geauga Lake, to arrive when it opens and stay until it closes. I would never have gotten a glimpse of what it was like to be a teenager in the early eighties. I would never have met the cool people they hung out with.
Sure, I lost some of my innocence hanging out with them. But I got a glimpse of a life less orderly, less secure. I learned what it felt like to throw the dice and deal with the consequences, good or bad. I learned what good singing was. I discovered how good it felt to break the rules every now and then.
That song always reminds me of that day in the parking lot. I haven't heard it in years, yet I can instantly call it up in my mind. And when I do that, I'm transported to my childhood, where I sit in an overly warm car that smells of vinyl and stale cigarette smoke, watching the rain roll down the windows and wishing to fly away.
Not with the perv who wrote the song, mind you. Just on my own.