My work is there, not here, so I drive an hour from my rural home to Minneapolis & St. Paul, Minnesota (the Twin Cities or simply ‘the Cities') to go to concerts, rehearsals, lunches, dinners, parties, networking opportunities. An hour there, an hour back. I take the back roads. I frequently eat breakfast or a quick lunch in my car. I'm used to crumbs. I don't really care about them. I know where I can get Super for the price of Regular Unleaded and which gas stations I can make it to on less than one-quarter of a tank.
What I do care about is the fact that I only have a radio. I surf. I channel surf in my car more than I surf the internet (Facebook doesn't count). Wow, is it bad some days. Then I actually get out my phone, with an mp3 player but only about 8 CD's worth of music on it, and swerve around potholes on I-94 as I start the music player. But on good days, which are more frequent than the ‘bad days', I drive more slowly (read: I don't speed quite as much) so I can listen to Mark Wheat on 89.3 The Current,
who not only has a fantastic accent (he's from the area of Cambridge), but I love what he plays. He says all the names, knows the words, knows where the band is currently touring, when they'll be in the Cities, he lives, breathes, and eats the best music rags he can subscribe to. Then he regurgitates it all from his brain.
I've started writing down song titles and artists that interest me in the back of the notebook I use as a mileage log. Like Ravi Shankar's Third Concerto for Sitar and Orchestra, performed by his daughter Anoushka Shankar and the Orpheus Chamber Orchestra and played on MPR (Minnesota Public Radio) on a Friday afternoon. I had a 45-minute drive to an event that I could hardly wait for and I dreaded the drive because as long as I was still in the car I certainly wasn't at that event! So I tried MPR to try to distract me from the drive. I remember the intersection I was at when the end of the Concerto came; it was the intersection of Joy & Bliss. It reminded me of Grad School and how I found out that my friend Pedro could play the Sitar and how someone once upon a time told me how one receives a Sitar as a gift after you've learned all the ragas and such. As happens when I listen to exquisitely-well-played-Bach, I thought I could hear words emanating from the Sitar.
A few years ago I took a road trip to southern France that originated in southern Germany. The drive was l-o-n-g. The weather and the view from the car that summer day are long-gone from my memory, yet I remember the local station SWR3 having read the English text and the German translation of Pink's song about her friend that committed suicide, "Who Knew." The song had been out for months, yet I'd never listened to the words. Since that morning, I've never forgotten them.
Less than a year ago I was still living in Germany. After teaching my Friday lessons I'd burn home on the Autobahn at speeds of over 100 mph around all the curves with the radio blaring. One key morning I wasn't coming from lessons, but from receiving advice from a friend. My life was crashing down around me, I didn't know it, I needed someone to listen, and not only did she listen, but she gave me some of the best advice I've ever received. I don't think she even knows that, to this day. U2 and Mary J Blige's recording of "One" was on the radio.
"Love is a temple. Love is a higher law.
You ask me to enter
but then you make me crawl;
and I can't keep holding on
to what you got
when all you got is hurt."
I bawled and sobbed my way home. I had made a decision that I knew would not only directly affect more lives than just mine, but was the beginning of a major change of which I was still fully unaware. It was very painful, difficult, and one excellent decision. To this day I think of that drive whenever I hear that song and I think about all that has happened since then. How thankful I am for that friend.
My work is there and not here, so I frequently warm up in the car. I make phone calls in parking lots and eat in my car. I don't mind the crumbs. But the one thing I can't have in my car is silence. I have to have music, even if I'm just surfing from station to station.