Friday, March 23, 2007

Just heard Dave Loggins' "Please Come to Boston" . . .

. . . and I'm feeling blue. . . . Or something.

Every time I hear that song (you can catch a snippet here; click on "Play Sample"), it seems to tear my heart out.

I get this sense of nostalgia. An overwhelming sense of . . . sadness. Loss. . . . But it's not my loss. I know it's not mine. I think it's my sense of loss for my parents. . . . I think a lot of it may have to do with my parents and their relationship.
Please come to Boston
For the springtime.
I'm stayin' here with some friends
And they've got lots of room.
You can sell your paintings on the sidewalk
By a cafe where I hope to be workin' soon.
Please come to Boston.
She said, "No. Would you come home to me?"

And she said, "Hey, ramblin' boy,
Now won't you settle down.
Boston ain't your kind of town.
There ain't no gold
And there ain't nobody like me.
I'm the number one fan
Of the man from Tennessee.
My dad wasn't quite the "ramblin' boy" the way Loggins' song speaks of. But he met my Mom in "Boston." At least close enough. She was from Quincy--an almost-suburb of Boston. And I think we always spoke of Mom as being more-or-less from Boston. When we'd go back to visit her mom or her brother, I don't think we referred to Quincy. I think we spoke of Boston.

I think, too, there was always some kind of wistfulness in my parents' relationship. Maybe I'm projecting that onto them. There has certainly always been a wistfulness in my mind toward my parents' relationship! . . . I had always wished they had been more "whole" in the way they treated each other.

I think, too, there was more of a longing on the part of my Mom toward my Dad than the other way around. As I said, Dad wasn't quite a drifter/rambler the way Loggins' character was. (Though we sure moved around a lot as I was growing up!) But/and, though he says he never actually consummated a relationship with another woman while they were married, I think Dad had a bit of a wandering heart . . . always wishing for "something more."

But I'm not sure he sought it in his relationship with Mom. Or, maybe, that is/was part of his character.

I never realized it until the last few years. Dad has always been a hopeless romantic: a pie-in-the-sky dreamer, I think. (I had always figured he was the ultimate rationalist. Partially because he was an electrical engineer. Partially because he seemed so emotionally dense around the rest of us: always, it seemed, causing so much pain, but never, it seemed, being able to recognize how he could have caused any of it.)

But now I'm wondering if his real "problem" had more to do with what I'm beginning to see as no strong drive, on his own, to get wherever he wanted to go. (One minor piece of evidence: He wrote a paragraph recently about his relationship with Mom and it was totally in the passive voice; whatever happened had to be her doing; he took no responsibility. . . . But the pie-in-the-sky dreamer thing, too: I don't think he had outlandish dreams (though I don't recall him ever really talking about them); but his dreams, I expect, were "just out of reach." And so, I think, he lived a kind of tragic life. --I think of his mother's phrase. "Poor Ernest!" I'm told she always said about him. My uncles, meanwhile--younger and making far less money than he did, lived well. . . . But Dad was "poor." Our family was "poor." At least, that's the way we kids were always taught when we were growing up: "We can't afford that" (whatever it was).)

Anyway. Back to Dave Loggins and "Please Come to Boston."

I think there is and always has been something very romantic in Dad's mind about Boston--Boston in the springtime, especially. Maybe, again, I have projected that thought onto him because of my recollections of Robert McCloskey's Make Way for Ducklings. --Dad always made sure we knew the pond in that book was real. The swan boats were real. Everything in McCloskey's book was real. Mom and Dad once took a ride on a swan boat. How romantic! . . .

But there was, I'm sure more to it than hopeless romanticism. Dad and Mom courted near Boston. Dad was a student at MIT at the time--in Cambridge, just across the Charles River from Boston proper. Mom would "come up" on the weekends from Framingham Teacher's College. . . .

Well, the feelings keep coming related to this song. . . .
Please come to Denver
With the snowfall.
We'll move up into the mountains
So far that we can't be found
And throw I-love-you echoes
Down the canyons--
And then lie awake at night
'Til they come back around.
Please come to Denver.
She said, "No. Boy, would you come home to me?"

And she said, "Hey, ramblin' boy,
Why don't you settle down?
Denver ain't your kind of town.
There ain't no gold
And there ain't nobody like me.
'Cause I'm the number one fan
Of the man from Tennessee.
Uh. Yeah. John Denver. "Rocky Mountain High in Colorado. . . . I've seen it raining fire in the sky. . . ."

And we live there. . . . Uh. Here.

It's not quite as "rocky cathedraled" as John Denver wanted to make it out to be. But there is something we love about the Rocky Mountains. . . . Could the love of a woman--"the number one fan of the man from [wherever]"--make up for someone struck with wanderlust?
Now this drifter's world
Goes round and round
And I doubt if it's ever gonna stop.
But of all the dreams
I've lost or found
And all that I ain't got:
I still need to lean to
Somebody I can sing to.

Please come to L.A.
To live forever.
A California life alone
Is just too hard to build.
I live in a house that
Looks out over the ocean
And there's some stars
That fell from the sky
Livin' up on the hill.
Please come to L.A.
She just said no.
"Boy, won't you come home to me?"
Been there, too. Lived in the LA area for almost 10 years.

There are no stars--certainly none that fell from the sky!--living up on the hill.

Somehow, I just find this whole way of life--living with a never-satisfied yearning for something that is never to be . . . --it drives me nuts!

I think back to the beginning of the song:
You can sell your paintings on the sidewalk
By a cafe where I hope to be workin' soon.
--Yeah. Right! He hopes to be workin' there, soon! --Another empty "dream" . . . with no commitment to follow through and make it happen.

And so what does his number-one fan really see in him? Did she--does she--finally give up on him? Or does she eventually join him in his gypsy ways?


Our family moved . . . a lot . . . while I was growing up: Berkeley, San Jose, Syracuse, Palo Alto/Stanford, Schenectady. . . . And as I think about it, I think my Dad always had nostalgia for "someplace else": always regrets. "Oh, if only!" "If only I had not sold our house in San Jose!" "If only . . . !"

I don't want to live with regrets. I want to live purposefully and decide, if there was a better choice I could have taken ("if only I had known"): "Too bad!" --Too bad for the person who wants to bemoan the fact; not too bad for me! I didn't know. And I couldn't have made a better choice considering what information I had in hand at the time. . . . So no use "crying over spilt milk." It's time to figure out how to move ahead into the future. . . .
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