I decided to send my parents a little something for valentine's day this year so I sat down for a few diligent hours and downloaded a sizable compilation of music that I recalled being favorite selections of theirs during the days of my early childhood. As I replayed the resulting four cd's of tunes from Sergio Mendes and Brazil 66, Bobby Darin, Tom Jones, Trini Lopez, Jose Feliciano and a variety of other musical talents of the past, my consciousness slipped back to a time of Barbies and tether ball and late afternoon games of hide and seek with an assorted gang of neighborhood kids whose names and faces I can just barely bring to mind. It was Cincinnati, Ohio, in the 1960's, and I was a tomboy with skinned knees and chocolate stains on my t-shirt. Or maybe spaghetti sauce. I often seemed to wear my meals back in those days.
So I had my parents on the phone, prior to mailing out my gift, and I told them I had a surprise to send them, but I struggled not to give away too many hints about what it was. When I did manage to steer the conversation towards music, it was achieved, I think, rather nonchalantly, without any reference to the unposted package. We were talking about old stuff, stuff we'd saved and stuff we'd discarded, and I slipped in a comment about all the records they used to have and wasn't it a shame to lose all that music when they finally decided to part with their somewhat massive collection . My mom said, much to my disappointment, that they wouldn't really listen to any of that old music now anyway. (damn, I thought) When I casually mentioned a few of the artists I'd recently resurrected, she said "oh, yes... they're always good. We've gone out and bought cd's to replace those albums." As an afterthought she threw in the fact that they must have at least 500 cd's in their current collection; saying so in such a way that it seemed as if she thought a good purge of the recent accumulation might be in order.
So. I guess my little present won't be quite as cool as I'd hoped, but I'm sure they'll like it any way because it's from me. My four cd's will likely get filed away in the heap... but hey... it was the thought and the effort and blah blah blah.
But I'm thinking now that replaying this old music was much more poignant for me than it will be for them. It took me back to a time when I was content to let someone else make all the major and minor choices and decisions in my life: where I lived, what clothes I wore, how late I stayed up and what I had for dinner. Meanwhile, I was basically content to occupy myself with the construction of elaborate, circuitous connections of orange hot wheel tracks that meandered throughout the family room. Or with marrying off my Barbie dolls to some famous, good-looking actor of the day. I could care less what music my mom was blasting and singing along to in the background and it would never have occurred to me to approach her with a pained expression and a snarling tone and say "Hey... what is this CRAP you're playing?? Can we PLEASE change it??" Ah. The oblivion of youth. We had other shit going on.