Music

The Music of What Happens – Bowdoin News

Summary

The blinkers stopped working in Kansas. We’d forgotten we needed them. Strawberry-blond stubble of cornfields in the snow and the road so straight it looks like a diagram in perspective drawing. The sky is a washed-out old sheet tucked in too tightly at the corners. We’re in Kansas, and we’re talking about heaven.

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The blinkers stopped working in Kansas. We’d forgotten we needed them. Strawberry-blond stubble of cornfields in the snow and the road so straight it looks like a diagram in perspective drawing. The sky is a washed-out old sheet tucked in too tightly at the corners. We’re in Kansas, and we’re talking about heaven.

Perrin (Milliken ’22), in the driver’s seat, goes first. There’s something freeing about talking without having to look at each other, but her answer surprises me so much I turn my head.

“Walking around an airport before the flight takes off.” She glances at me and smiles, “You?”

The question “what’s your idea of heaven?” is from a deck of getting-to-know-you cards we brought from her house in Vermont, tucked into a canvas bag between homemade granola and a box of cassettes her dad made for her mom in college. (“If you hear my voice,” he warns us, “turn it off.”) Bringing the cards is somewhat ironic because we already know each other well. Over the past year, cross-country skiing at Pineland and early morning breakfasts in Reed House have morphed into letters and FaceTime calls, then late-night resolutions and stifled laughter from the room we shared in a house of friends taking classes online. As our worlds shift, our friendship calibrates, keeps up. And now we’re driving to Salt Lake City in a borrowed car, in winter, in the middle of a pandemic.

I’m not ready to answer the question yet.

“Why an airport?”

Perrin thinks about it. “Because I still have all the excitement of going on a trip, but I haven’t gotten there yet. My expectations haven’t met reality.”

“I think mine would be waking up early with friends around and everyone else is still asleep.” We’re quiet for a few minutes.

“But this is pretty good too.”

When my mother, Jean Hoffman ’79, hitchhiked cross-country in the summer of 1975, the year she matriculated at Bowdoin, things were different. Fleece hadn’t been invented. Composition notebooks cost only fifty-nine cents, as I read off the toast-colored cover of her journal from the trip. Well-intentioned parents might not have let their teenage daughters hitchhike, but if those daughters bought a bus pass and swore to stick to the bus route, well, they had no way of knowing.

My mom and her friend Leslie went because they wanted to see the West, mostly Colorado. They didn’t bring a tent. They did bring refillable peanut butter and jelly squeeze tubes, my grandfather’s yellow vinyl rain slickers, and one book apiece. They also brought Leslie’s fifteen-year-old sister, Eve, which was probably a mistake.

From the trip, not much remains. As Leslie, who is still wavy-haired and blunt, tells me over Zoom, she can’t really remember where she went with my mom and where she went with another …….

Source: https://www.bowdoin.edu/news/2021/11/the-music-of-what-happens.html