Saturday, May 17, 2008

memory lane

This week I had the only "work" related thing I had to do between May 6 and June 6. Thursday the 15th, I had to travel 320 miles round trip to the central offices of the Kentucky Community and Technical College System, in Versailles, Kentucky [Kentuckians pronounce this towns name as "Ver-sails," not the French "Ver-sigh"] to make a two minute plea not to change the language in a proposal emanating from the curriculum committee I chair. My plea was successful.

Since this was work related, the college gave me a van and credit card for gas, so the travel was free (to me). Driving the college van is a guilty pleasure. Brand new in October 2007, with 8 cylinders under the hood and power everything, it is soooo different from driving my own tiny 3-cylinder, 50 mile per gallon, Chevy Metro. I'd never buy anything like this (even if I could afford it), but it is an occasional treat to drive something that is so much more comfortable and powerful on long trips.

Technically, I could have driven there and back in one day (3 1/2 hours each way). But, even in the luxurious college van, its hard for me to drive that long without developing all kinds of hip, knee and back pains, and sometimes it's hard to stay awake. So I decided to combine pleasure with business, and stayed overnight in Lexington, Kentucky, just a few miles from Versailles on the way back to eastern Kentucky where I live. [Since the overnight was for my convenience, that won't get billed to the college.]

I love Lexington. I lived there for seven and a half years (January 1975 to August 1982) while in graduate school at the University of Kentucky. Even before I moved back to Kentucky in 1996, I would come back to Lexington to visit at least once a year, sometimes more. Lots beautiful things to see, lots of great places to eat, and lots of great shopping. Plus I have a wonderful friend that lives in Lexington.

Sharon was the first person I met when I came to UK in 1975. She was the secretary of the Department of Higher Education where I began my graduate career. [Sharon has long since left UK for a very interesting career in Kentucky state government, climbing to the level of political appointment, and then retiring a few years ago.] Within a week of meeting Sharon, I also met her daughter Stephanie, who was 6 years old at the time. Stephanie is the only child that I have truly been able to watch grow up. Stephanie and I spent lots of time together when I was in graduate school, and I kept coming back to Lexington to visit through out her life. I was able to be there for her wedding. On this trip Sharon showed me the most recent photos of Stephanie's children. Stephanie's daughter is now six, and an absolute dead ringer for her mom at the same age. In an instant I was transported back to that freezing January day, when I climbed into Sharon's car and met Stephanie for the first time.

One of the things I like about the college's van, is that like my own car, it has a jack to plug in an iPod (or other MP3 player). Over the past six months, I've been slowly adding music to my iPod -- mostly by digitizing my album collection, which I'm only about an eighth of the way through. I've created what I call my "life soundtrack" play lists. I have one for "childhood" (up to age 12), then one for "the sixties" (technically '63-'69), one for "college," another for "grad school," one for what I call my "MTV years" ('82-'90), and finally one just called "40 plus."

On this trip I decided to listen to "childhood," which is a mixture of traditional songs and folk songs we sang as a family (Peter, Paul and Mary, the New Christie Minstrels, Pete Seeger) and early rock and roll that we heard on the radio (some Elvis, Chuck Berry, etc.). It's a good play list for the car, because I can sing almost all the words to all the songs. One of the songs on this play list is "Today" (performed by the New Christie Minstrels). This was possibly my favorite song from the time I first heard it well up through college. I can still sing the entire song from memory, but had not thought about it in some time. I hit the back button six or seven times, and listened to the song over and over again. It is still a hauntingly beautiful song. Here are the lyrics:

Today while the blossoms still cling to the vine,
I'll taste your strawberries, I'll drink your sweet wine.
A million tomorrows will all pass away,
ere I forget all the joy that is mine today.

I'll be a dandy, and I'll be a rover,
You'll know who I am by the song that I sing,
I'll feast at your table, I'll sleep in your clover,
Who cares what tomorrow may bring.

Today while the blossoms still cling to the vine,
I'll taste your strawberries, I'll drink your sweet wine.
A million tomorrows will all pass away,
ere I forget all the joy that is mine today.

I can't be contented with yesterday's glories,
I can't live on promises winter to spring,
Today is my moment and now is my story,
I'll laugh and I'll cry and I'll sing.

Today while the blossoms still cling to the vine,
I'll taste your strawberries,
I'll drink your sweet wine.
A million tomorrows will all pass away,
ere I forget all the joy that is mine today.

The idea of living in the present is desirable and appealing (if difficult to maintain). However, as I listened to the lyrics, I realized that there was also something adolescent about them. At heart, they express an unwillingness to settle down and make commitments. While we can only live one day at a time (keeping that fact firmly in mind is key to many recovery programs), we also do need to make promises and commitments, so that our days are linked to the past and future in a meaningful way.

3 comments:

Jessica G said...

Awww shucks! You were only twenty minutes away! We could of had coffee! :)

Nothing makes me feel older or wiser than seeing children that I used to change their diapers all grown with kids of their own.

I hope you didn't get a "crotch van"....here at Gateway we have vans with a huge decal on both sides of a male and a female student. To open the van..you grab the handle...which is positioned exactly on the poor women's crotch. Very bad placement on the van. :)

Qaro said...

Hi Sue, Great post. I like the idea about the playlists!

Jessica, Wow! : )

Sue said...

Jessica - lol. Nope. We only have the college name and the KCTCS logo on the vans.