Take Me Home, Country Roads

There is a road that runs from our cottage in Maine down through the Webhannet Marsh and to the ocean.  It is exactly one mile and the fine, sensible residents of this small town gave it the fine, sensible name of “Mile Road.” Often I will run on the shoulder of this road, past the marsh grass and laughing sea gulls, the tasty smell of fried haddock wafting from Billy’s Chowder House, onto the wide sandy beach and each time, it is like coming home.

My thoughts are free to run as well and this time they take a jog through my thirteenth year, when I was a skinny, pizza faced, metal mouthed adolescent who preferred sitting in front of a piano to the football games on the TV that my brothers were constantly screaming at.
“Can you stop playing that stupid piano, doofus?”  my brother Chuck would shout.

“Can you stop playing with your organ?” I’d shout back and fist-a-cuffs would ensue.

My mother grew concerned that I spent too much time at the piano and not enough time in front of girls. So she enrolled me in the local youth football league where she hoped that some quality time spent sweating, grunting and tackling other boys might somehow shift my perspective. 

It did not.

I was not aggressive enough and soon became the laughing stock of the team.  I would ride my bicycle out a half hour before practice and hide in the trees across the street listening to my mother shouting out the back door “Bee-uhl!” she gave my name two syllables “It’s time for practice!”

As my mother wizened up, my avoidance tactics became more creative. 

“Mom, the John Denver concert is tonight and you know how much I love him,” I lied.

My mother’s eyes narrowed as I weaved the story and advised me that I could go to the concert on one condition, if I brought a friend along.  My heart skipped a beat.  I had no friends.

I called up all of the neighborhood boys that used to be my friends and one by one they declined.  I would pay for this at school the next day.  My brother Chuck displayed a surprising sense of fraternal affection and agreed to go with me.

“Man, that Starland Vocal Band can sing!” He boasted when we got home referring to the warm up group, “They’re going to be around a long time,” he prophesized and then sat down and began to strangle his guitar attempting to master “Stairway to Heaven” by Led Zeppelin.

Eventually I moved far away and married the high school quarterback who likes to shout at the TV during football games and we bought a home in this small corner of Maine where the fine, sensible folks said “Why not?” when asked if same sex marriage should be made legal.

My mother came for a visit recently, joined us and some friends at a local piano bar for drinks and songs one beautiful summer night. “Are you two brother and sister?” a slightly inebriated young nearsighted gay man asked my mother, much to her delight and to my chagrin.

“Bee-uhl, tell them to play Country Roads,” my mother asked me and I complied.  I regarded her face, flush from a pink cosmo and the tasty compliment as she sang two octaves higher at the top of her lungs with about thirty other bellowing gay men. I kissed my husband Paul, gave my mother a hug and for all the world,  it was very much like coming home.

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