I adore my life here in Germany. No two ways about it. That said, while my mom has been visiting recently (hi mom!), I’m of course reminded of those I left behind across the sea. I’ve been thinking a lot lately about those connections and relationships.
Not lovey dovey, husbandy-wifey-let’s make babies relations. While such permanent couplings are beautiful and I am lucky to have that one, perfect person in my life, I’m talking about something completely different. Friendships…platonic ones…important ones. Those we have, those we have yet to fully explore and those which haven’t yet crawled out from their peaceful slumber. Crouched in waiting, these associations prey on humans who finally realize “I might be mistaken, but I think we have something here. This person is worth some time.” It’s been my experience over the last 20+ years that music is often the #1 catalytic ingredient (sense of humor being a close second) that encourages these friendships to warm, swirl and bubble, and sometimes reanimate from a towering pile of dormant years of not being in touch.
Pop culture, media and music especially, transcends gender and geography to the point of saturating everything and everyone within its interminable reach with indelible catchiness and memories. It connects all of us. Allow me to illustrate; music it’s not, but I think it’ll inject some truth into what I’m rambling on about:
Way back in the day, the majority of 15-17 year-olds in my hood worked at a local amusement park. Though I often say that I “was once a carney” it only amounted to several teenaged summers of my working at a variety of ice cream/sweets/cotton candy shops. Unfortunately I was never in charge of the spokes and gears of a stomach-turning ride. That, of course, was left to the potheads and the toothless.
One summer, I want to say 1990, I worked at a sweaty food stand where my days consisted of strawberry chopping, waffle-cone-making and ice cream scooping. 99% of the time this stand was the nucleus of the park, even when threatening weather was looming. One cold and rainy afternoon when the majority of patrons either left or decided to cancel their picnic/park plans, we, The Strawberry Choppers, were terribly bored. When we did have a customer trickle by for ice cream on a cold day, we somehow got it in our heads to begin asking them – complete strangers – what their favorite Brady Bunch episode was. Just out of curiosity. I mean, everyone knows the Bradys. At least my generation and the one before does…at least. After several successful and hilarious attempts for this information, which everyone was stoked to disclose by the way, we made the executive decision to not give paying customers their treat until they answered the question. Best idea ever. A banner day at the Cyclone Cone it was.
Obviously these conversations weren’t MENSA material, though some of them did go on for an obscenely long while. A simple question regarding a pop culture reference all were familiar with and the smiles, laughter and (dis)agreement was absolutely flying. And this was about something as unemotional as the fucking Brady Bunch. So, you can imagine how famously 2 strangers can get on when they share a passion for something as important as a cherished LP or band. Make sense? Of course it does. Though I forged no friendships from Operation Porkchops and Applesauce 1990, I have met some magnificent people by way of shared musical tastes.
For one, my best friend of over 20 years…a person who lived in another town unbeknownst to me throughout (almost) the entirety of my high school career and who had a record collection that mirrored mine with unbelievable exactness. Those records were fuel for conversations that made us think we had the world in common which, of course, we didn’t. Our family lives couldn’t have been more different. But that didn’t matter. In no time flat we were writing each other letters and swapping New Order badges for our jacket collars. Cute, right? Totally.
Fast forward to 2012 and we can (still) finish the sentences of the other, we travel across oceans for visits and our spouses have become part of the lovely friendship equation. I like to think that music is solely responsible for this evolution. Of course, his continual caustic ribbing and trying to out-do me when it comes to discovering a new record is (still) obnoxious but I expect it. I wouldn’t have it any other way, actually. I can only hope that you, too, have something just as annoying…and fantastic.
[Abby’s Road is a Knox Road feature published every other Friday.]