Friday, June 15, 2012

Dream of a Fallen Soldier

This is about a song from 1971.

I had just graduated from the University of Michigan. My girlfriend Claudia and I decided to take a summer road trip. We started in Ann Arbor where we drove first to Boston to visit Elliott and Cookie. The four of us then drove to Vermont in two different cars, one couple each. We camped out in the tranquil, spiritual Vermont woods for two nights. It was Cookie's first time with weed. Then Elliott and Cookie went back to Boston where Elliot started his first year of law school at Boston College. Claudia and I continued on our road trip, driving first to Montreal where we got on the TransCanada highway on our way across that beautiful country all the way to Vancouver.

We camped out mostly. I remember laying in the tent in Thunder Bay, Ontario, where we were kept up all night by the most severe thunderstorm of our lives. Across the vast flatlands of Manitoba and Saskatchewan to beautiful Alberta where we were mesmerized by the beauty of Banff and of Lake Louise. We were still camping, eating mostly brown rise and vegetables. We were kids in the first genuine love of our lives.

Then we hit the Canadian Rockies and stoned as we were, it was the most breathtakingly exquisite two-days drive-though of our lives. All the while, the music of our time provided the soundtrack, sometimes gentle and romantic, sometimes loud and rowdy, all out of the radio of the Chevrolet Vega. By the time we reached British Columbia, we realized Western Canada was one of the most pristine places on earth. Through the beautiful city of Vancouver, across the US border, south through Washington and down the Oregon coast to California, to Berkeley, where we stayed at a,"Hostel for Couples."

By then, we were hardly speaking to each other. Traveling together for six weeks like that, relationships either blossom or die. It was the latter for us. We turned back and drove all night to Salt Lake City were we checked into a motel about 8:00 am and stayed for a very uncomfortable 24 hours. Three days later we were back in Ann Arbor, road weary and broken, a couple-once-in-love.

Your Song, which meant so much to us in Vermont, became a cynical commentary on what was only the naiveté of two kids who knew nothing about love.

I saw Claudia only one more time. About six months later I drove back to Boston, stopping at her parents house in New Rochelle where she was staying to say good-bye one last time.

Forty years later, I listen to Elton John and remember that for one fleeting moment in my life, words seemed so real, so warm, so perfect. Forty years later, its just the dream of a fallen soldier.

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

good story Allan, the most amazing
part is you did it in a chevy vega,
probably the worst car ever made.
you might qualify for the guinness
world record for longest road trip in a vega.