I go back.
You know how they say a smell can bring back a flood of memories? For instance, if I smell some fresh-baked cinnamon rolls with raisins, I will flash back to my time spent commercial fishing, specifically, Togiak herring. Why? Togiak herring was a game of hurry up and wait; 3-5 days to get there and then wait, wait and wait for the herring to get ripe enough to harvest. And many years those herring like to take their time, often days to weeks. So to pass the time we would beach comb, read, talk, sleep, mend nets, clean engines, and Doug would always make a batch of homemade cinnamon rolls. Without fail, every year at least one giant batch of fresh-baked cinnamon rolls. When you are trapped inside a 10X15 cabin with four other guys for weeks at a time, it was the little things that made a difference, and those rolls, although not little, always made the difference. The smell would waif throughout the fleet atop the salty air of Togiak Bay. Needless to say, a flood of company would magically appear.
Well I have found the same truth sometimes in a song. Sometimes just a genre of song will bring me right back to high-school, my mullet, thin stache, jean jacket and Air Jordan’s. Instantly I feel younger and energetic. Sometimes it can be a specific song. I still remember after I bought Tracy’s engagement ring. I was so excited and nervous, again with the mullet, thin stache…… that I just couldn’t keep it in my pocket. I still remember to this day as I was driving back to campus in my 86 Black Pontiac Firebird with the reticulating headlights stuck in up mode, dark tinted windows and spoiler aiding the critical aerodynamics of the superb driving machine. Surprisingly, there was very little traffic in that dark warm evening in Springfield Missouri, and thanks to my leather driving gloves, I was able to drive a little faster than usual. I turned up the radio, a smile locked onto my face and the song that was playing was from 38 special. A song, prior to that day, that I thought was okay, but definitely not my top style, definitely not my favorite, and probably not appropriate for the moment, but a good song. Yet, on that day it became one of those special songs that takes me back to that night over and over, every time I hear it.
Or even (gasp, do I even dare admit this?) Milli Vanilli. You see it was only one of about six CD’s Tra and I had for our drive from Anchorage back to Missouri to school. So it was well used, over and over and over; girl you know it’s true. So now every single time I accidentally hear a Milli Vanilli song, I am transported back to that Nissan Pathfinder and the four-day drive. However, I don’t think that CD ever found the inside of a CD player after that trip.
It happened again, just a few days ago. I was driving out of Anchorage, just leaving a couple of days of work meetings, meetings where I had just turned in my two-week notice. I had a piping hot Americano, no hair, a very conservative Chevy Trailblazer, and like always from May to August, a ton of traffic on the Seward Highway heading out of Anchorage. It didn’t matter to me though, because my head was elsewhere, not on my driving or the traffic, or the two and half hour drive ahead. Instead I kept thinking over and over, what did I just do? Was I sure about this? Is this right? I had these tiny little doubts creeping deep into my pyschi, and I didn’t like it. My iphone was not plugged into the car, so I turned on the radio which happened to be on 88.5, and a song had just come on. It was a song I had never heard, a song I probably would’ve never noticed, but instantly it caught my attention, and without thinking I twisted the black knob to the right to confirm what I was hearing. Again, not my style of music, again not a song that would’ve ever ended up on any of my playlists, but at the right time in the right situation it was perfect. The lyrics I heard said, ” When the waves are taking you under, hold on just a little bit longer, he knows this is going to make you stronger, stronger”. Those lyrics slapped me like a flounder across the face, snapped me out of a funk and erased the temporary doubt that was trying to cloud my hope. I will admit, although I was driving at max speed limit, I was still able to download that song before Girdwood and play it over and over again on my drive home to prepare for our last month in Alaska.