The Wisconsin night (early morning?) is -4F factoring windchill and the snow is falling to the beat of the windsheield wipers. It falls across the road in arcs, not sticking, just blowing around. A metaphor? Perhaps. I am driving too fast, but the music is so good and I’m feeling lucky. Might be there’s a full moon behind the clouds.
So much for too cold to snow. I’m cruising down I-94 East from Okauchee Lake headed towards Milwaukee. The year is 1981 or so. I’m listening to Rosanne Cash on 8-track. This whole album could be the soundtrack of my life for this year and the previous two. 7 Year Ache has a nicer ring than 3 Year Pain in the Ass.
Young. I would have been 22 or thereabouts. Tall, thin, 6 feet of hair and legs, some say a knockout, but an absurdly assured insecure one. I was a contradiction always. I came across as having moxy and confidence, but in reality I was just a 22-year-old girl trying to find my way.
The heater in the 1980 Mustang can’t keep up with -4F and my breath fogs the windshield. I am wiping the windshield with the sleeve of my coat and singing at the top of my lungs. I am steering with my left hand and claaping my thigh to the beat of the song.
“Girls in the bar thinking ‘who is this guy.'”
Who is this guy? Forty years later I still think about him. My Baby Things He’s a Train is a better choice and I switch tracks on the 8-track, trying to get close to that song. I’ve memorized what song is on what track and where I need to start to get to a song I like.
“Man, he’s hard to take. What you supposed to do when you’re baby thinks he a train? “
I see a car in the median, I slow, knowing it’s a trooper. I’m doing a sedate 55 when I pass him. He leaves me be. Yeah, I’m lucky tonight. Headed home, alone.
The whole car is shaking from the vibration of the shitty stereo blaring Rosanne Cash singing under the tutelage of Rodney Crowell. Geniuses, the both of them.
It takes one to know one, baby
I know how you feel
You got your hunger
And some problems that are real
And you’re dealing with some demons
Who are driving you insane
And I’ve seen them drag you screaming
Down the hallways of your brain.
But wait! Thats a Kristofferson song. Sung by the great Emmylou and Rodney.
Evidently, I have a thing for damaged men. Who play guitar.
You act like you were just born tonight
Face down in a memory but feeling all right
So who does your past belong to today?
Baby, you don’t say nothing when you’re feeling this way
Face down in a memory, but feeling all right. Yeah…. Feeling all right.
It’s -4F and I’m singing myself home on a frigid Wisconsin night. And 40 years later, I’m sitting in a converted barn remembering the cold of that night, the heat of the music, and the attention of damaged men. Listening to rain fall on a tin roof wondering if the snow and cold and heat will come again.