My dad grew up in a centuries-old farmhouse in Western Maine. There were rolling hills and ponds, and a feldspar quarry at the edge of the near-200 acre property. I grew up there too, on weekends and in the summer. It was simple, quiet, and beautiful.
My family sold the farm this past week. It was a relief for my Dad, I think, to be unburdened by a physical representation of long-ago. It’s been sad for me because this was my heritage. The truth is that things might be easier now, at least maybe a little. My parents will be able to look ahead to well-deserved retirements. A little more comfort, a little peace of mind.
My parents took me to Cleveland when I was sixteen. I could have picked New York, I could have picked someplace warm, but I chose Cleveland because I wanted to see the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame. I was already a pint-sized Lester Bangs (minus the booze, pills, and cough syrup) at that age. Nothing, seriously NOTHING was as important to me as rock music. My dream was to be on the cover of Rolling Stone, or to write for Rolling Stone. I couldn’t decide – still can’t.
My Dad hates cities. That may be from his childhood on the farm. It may be because he’s smart. Either way, I can assure you that Cleveland probably wasn’t his first choice. Actually, I’m pretty sure the back yard and a week with his woodpile would have been his first choice. He got on that plane with his weird Doc Marten’s-and-Manic-Panic-sporting teenage daughter though. He spent two days exploring every inch of the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame with me. He watched every documentary, and nodded in approval at every bit of Bowie-related ephemera. I know he hated to be away from Maine, but I know he loved every second in that steel-and-glass monument to pop-excess.
My dad has been a town manager since he was younger than I am now. Decades of working with the public has informed his way of speaking. Whether he knows it or not, he chooses his words economically. I’ll always remember what he said to me before we entered the Rock Hall on the first day of our trip: “We aren’t religious. We don’t go to church. This is our church.” He didn’t mean the museum. He meant rock and roll.
One of my first memories is of sitting on my Dad’s knee in his study, We didn’t know back then that I had a severe visual impairment, so I couldn’t see much. What I could see were the colored lights on Dad’s stereo. I would sit there for hours bouncing up and down on his knee, watching those lights while he sang along to Harvest.
My Dad gave me rock music. I can’t carry a centuries-old farmhouse in Western Maine with me everywhere I go, at least not literally. But I can bring songs. I can find home in records, so I’ll never be lost.