On the afternoon of Monday 27th February 2017, I was driving home from work and Richard Marx, Right here waiting came on the radio. You know how a song has the power to transport you back to a time and a place? Well, hearing this scooped me right up out of that rush hour traffic and plopped me down into my grandparents motorhome, travelling along the I-75 on the way from St Marys, Ohio to Speedwell, Tennessee.
I was sitting by the window at the table and bench with my Grandma and my mum. Dad was up front with Grandpa, who was driving. I was 15 years old. I didn’t realise it at the time, but this was one of the best days of my life growing up, and a time I think back to so often as being the perfect Summer.
I remember the beautiful scenery rushing by the window, the bright sunshine filling the motorhome, talking with my mum and grandma – and Richard Marx playing on the radio. My parents and I had travelled from the UK to the US to visit our family and we were embarking on a trip to Tennessee (where my family are originally from), to stay in the trailer my grandparents had on their land down there. It was a really long journey – maybe 6 hours in a car, but in a slow motorhome, more like 8 hours. We had 350 miles to cover and I think we usually made the journey over the course of a couple of days. How I loved that trip (we did it several times) and my god, how I loved zooming around on Grandpa’s 4 wheelers when we got there.
We lost Grandpa January 2016. He was 97 years old when he passed, so he had pretty good innings and he lived a full and interesting life, with lots of stories to tell. He’d been a serviceman, a farmer, a husband, father, grandpa, great grandpa……he was a complicated man, with regrets and secrets, but he was my Grandpa and I didn’t know him for nearly long enough or see him often enough.
This is one of those times in my life that lately, I think about a lot. I’d give anything to go back and sit at that table again. I have my head stuck firmly in the past lately, but not at the expense of forgetting to look forward, luckily. As you get older and lose people, it’s inevitable that you’ll think back to happier times when everyone was alive, young and happy.
I also remember Grandpa hitting a skunk (was it this trip….?) and the most god awful stench filling the motorhome. Ugh! 1986-1989 was also my musical awakening. I discovered soft rock (I still love Richard Marx!) and remember rocking out to Slippery When wet and other bands like Warrant, Poison and White Lion. My musical tastes got better over time (but do still generally include men with long hair, guitars and noisy drums). My love of rock music started during those summers, so I guess it’s only fitting that those songs remind me of those special days.