Monday, February 20, 2023

This Year: 1977

"This Year" is a series of weekly posts, each about one song from one year of my life. See the introduction for more.

1977's song made the list for a moment. There's only a few times in my life I can remember listening to a specific song at a specific time, and this might be the only one that felt important.

It's deeply silly, though: I warn you ahead of time.

I'm heading to college, before my freshman year. All my stuff - too much stuff, frankly; that's been the story of my life - crammed into my mother's several-years old Dodge Omni, as we made our way up the New York Thruway. It's some day in late August, 1986. Probably a Tuesday or Thursday, some nondescript day. I know I'm going to unpack in some strange dorm room, meet some strange new roommate, and then spend the next three or five days engaged in mandatory fun for Freshman Orientation.

Even then, I wasn't much for mandatory fun.

I was apprehensive and excited and worried and thrilled and a thousand other things. I couldn't describe then how I felt, and I'm not going to do a much better job now.

My mother had to stop at a rest stop, about halfway up. (That's the story of her life.) For whatever reason, I stayed in the car, with the engine still running, the radio on.

I can't tell you what station we were listening to.

But, after she left, while I was sitting there trying to decide if I was more worried or excited, a song came on. And it felt like a message from the universe: don't overthink this. Just go and do it. It'll be fun. No matter what, it will be fun.

The song was Rockaway Beach by Ramones. And it still makes me smile, and remember that moment, every time I hear it, even to this day.

"It's not hard, not far to reach." No. No: it really isn't. Thanks so much for making sure I knew that, random 1986-era DJ. I needed it, at that moment.

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