Last weekend involved driving out to Fitchburg to start on a fairly hefty sized paint job that my dad has hired me for. The job will be a super easy one because it is straight up paint everywhere -- prime it all, flat white ceilings, semi-white trim and linen white eggshell on all the walls -- plus there is carpet almost everywhere to be ripped out later so it is acting as a drop cloth. The point however is that there is a whole lot of road between my house and Fitchburg, a lot of music that can be played and a lot of sky to be seen.
A really freaky fleeting thing happened. We were just about in Leominster when I happened to glance out the driver’s side of the windshield (Matt was driving). Suddenly I noticed a cloud in the bright blue sky. There were not too many around so it stuck out as prominent before the tree line rose up to somewhat hide it again. Just as I was pushing the radio dial scan button I thought to myself ‘huh, that cloud is shaped just like Africa’. No sooner did the thought go through my head but I hit the button to go on to the next station and what is playing but Toto’s “Africa”. I just started laughing and Matt asked what was up so I told him the story and pointed out the cloud. He agreed it was very Africa esque.
So then I am catching up on blogs I enjoy and on Tuesday I come across this post by Experiments in Mediocrity. Are you serious?
I suddenly felt like “Preston Meyers” in Can’t Hardly Wait when he hears “Mandy” on the radio and thinks to himself that it must be a sign to talk to the recently single girl he loves named Amanda because he hadn’t heard the song in about a decade. Then the radio announces it will play the song every hour to celebrate Barry Manilow’s birthday and “Preston” just sinks.
Symbols and their meanings can be interpreted in just about any way we really want them to, whichever fits best into our convenient definition of ourselves, and that means that no matter how I interpret all of this it is going to be the most convenient way to fit into my life right? That is why when two people share the exact same experience, they really don’t.
Currently, I am pursuing a writing career and doing not too bad a job of it I might add. I start thinking, well, Africa is where everything allegedly began so maybe I am supposed to go back to the beginning. So I pulled out the dusty old, barely hanging on, Crate and Barrel box where I keep all my handwritten stuff and begin unloading the fifteen or so half full journals, loose leaf papers, tiny little scraps of paper and small random notebooks that contain all of the writing I have kept; dating back to at least 1986. I wonder if I should be transcribing the oldest one I can find. I wonder if I should be transcribing all of it.
Then I remember I saved my date books back to 2004 so I could go through and start writing stories based on the things I had done. Kind of like a modern memoir. I locate them and clip them all together and put them in the box that is now bursting at the seams. It is time for a bigger box.
Since music is such an inspiring factor in my life I decide to look up the song lyrics and see if there is some deeper hidden meaning within them that really speaks to me. After all, when the song came out I was about nine years old and while I likely enjoyed it for its gratuitous 80’s keyboard solo, I am fairly certain I didn’t understand what the song was about back then.
I hear the drums echoing tonight
But she hears only whispers of some quiet conversation
She’s coming in 12:30 flight
The moonlit wings reflect the stars that guide me towards salvation
I stopped an old man along the way
Hoping to find some long forgotten words or ancient melodies
He turned to me as if to say, hurry boy, its waiting there for you
Its gonna take a lot to drag me away from you
There’s nothing that a hundred men or more could ever do
I bless the rains down in Africa
Gonna take some time to do the things we never had
The wild dogs cry out in the night
As they grow restless longing for some solitary company
I know that I must do what’s right
Sure as Kilimanjaro
Rises like Olympus above the Serengeti
I seek to cure what’s deep inside,
Frightened of this thing that I’ve become
Huh. Nope not really screaming out to me about anything other than the fact that Africa sounds like a pretty cool place to see and the song is cool; I like drums, I like ancient words, I always wondered what a Coyote sounds like at night. And I still don’t really know what the song is about.
The last bit of the happenstance in my freaky little scenario is the sky and cloud. Now, I am a big lover of the sky, there are times I wonder how I never pursued a career as a Meteorologist because weather and anything that is a direct result of the sky fascinates me. Clouds and the cool shapes they take on are no exceptions to this.
I don’t think there has been a moment in my past when I have seen a cloud that looks like Africa before that moment. However I have seen countless clouds that remind me of the shape of one of my favorite islands, Martha’s Vineyard. I see them everywhere and it always makes me smile because that place is where time has no meaning. For a person that is somewhat rigid, but at the same time believes time is a totally crap concept, getting there is like coming full circle; it is difficult to explain. Sometimes I enjoy the fantasy of dreaming of becoming a whole new person in this new land. Most of the time I just dream of lying on the beach at Long Point though.
This year we are not going until September, when typically we would have just gotten back recently because the week after the 4th tends to be the time we go. This year S & B wanted to wait until the twins were a little older to really appreciate it and also so they could enjoy it without having to mix formula and all that ‘still under one year old’ crap. We are going in September also because it is going to save us over $1000 each. Luckily we will not be there when the Obama family hits East Chop for their August vacation. I suggested they should hit Ben & Bill’s for the best ice cream on the island since they will be so close by.
So what does any of this really have to do with each other?
Maybe I am looking for someone to tell me all the cool places to go in Africa? Maybe I am in need of my annual vacation and do not want to wait another two months to take it? Perhaps going from a month of rain right into mid 80’s and muggy sun was too much for my brain to wrap around? Should I pullout Can’t Hardly Wait and watch it on this lazy Saturday afternoon? Maybe I am simply sad because I got no iTunes gift certificates for my birthday this year so stocking up on 80’s pop is going to be a slower process? Perhaps I should learn the keyboard or how to write a song?
In the end, I chalk it up to the fact that there really was no nuance of semblance behind these random things, except to provide a truly sporadic, yet somehow cohesive, blog post just shy of 1400 words.
Either that or it really is time for a long road trip far from home full of big sky and fantastic music.