The Soundtrack of My Life – 30 – Heads Carolina, Tails California

Country music will always have my heart. It was the first “non-child,” secular music I first encountered and I fell in love with it the moment I heard that steel guitar. (Still one of my favorite sounds.) It’s funny, because neither of my parents were fans of “western” (what they called it) music. My dad was 60’s and 70’s pop rock and my mom wasn’t one to listen to the radio. Apart from them meeting for the first time in a country-western bar they didn’t have any attachment to the genre.

My father would wonder “Where did you get this love from?” He didn’t remember having set the station on my brand new radio to KFRG, before going outside to work in the yard. It was the first radio station it had been set to and it never strayed from it until we moved.

A lot of my birthday gifts were music related. The following year my parents gifted me a walk-man and two cassette tapes: Billy Ray Cyrus (for of course “Achey Breaky Heart”) and Alan Jackson. Apart from that one song I did not enjoy Billy Ray. I was, however, in love with Alan Jackson. I wrote that tape out. That man had the hits!

For my 11th birthday my parents bought me my first CD player stereo. Accompanying it were two discs by Tim McGraw and Jo Dee Messina.

“Heads Carolina, Tails California” was my favorite at the time. There was one moment when I had been listening to the radio at midnight, bedroom window open, and when this tune came on I started singing. A little too loud it would seem, I thought I was being quiet, but both my parents and the neighbors woke up very, very irritated.

I love the idea of the song: getting away, leaving everything up to chance. Maybe then they could outrun their bad luck with the spontaneity of their decision. It spoke to me at 11. I wasn’t happy living in Bakersfield. I felt so out of place. I never fit in. Most of the kids I started going to school with had been friends since kindergarten and here I was this chubby, quirky kid who used to be the smartest one in the class at his old school.

Most of all though, the idea of aimlessly traveling touched a deep nerve.

I have always loved road trips. I got to listen to music, play video games, and watch the landscape change around me. My family’s habit was getting up at the crack of dawn, grab some McDonald’s, and hit the road. That way it gave us more evening time at our end destination.

My husband is not like that at all. He wants to wake up at a “reasonable” hour (aka 11) and lackadaisically pack the car and head out. Any sense of urgency does not exist in his frame. And that BUGS!

Regardless, we have made our two very different ways of doing things work. Primarily I have just given in because fighting him on it is impossible. He will control the situation no matter what I try to do. Even now, where the brother-husband and I have to do everything, this bitch will find a way to make sure we leave on his schedule. It’s truly remarkable.

This October the three of us will be embarking on a road trip to Boston, looping down to Orlando and then on to Vegas for the MTG 30 event. We will make an overnight stop in North Carolina to visit an old friend and a sort-a-kinda-cousin. (Hard to explain.)

It was intended to be a trip for just the two of us, to give the B-H a break from me and Charlie. However, when the husband brought it up that he requires a lot of help and attention he suggested it would be a good idea if he came along. And he isn’t wrong. The vast majority of the trip would be spent on his general care. We are at the point now where there is nothing he can do without assistance.

I am really looking forward to our trip. The open road calls to me. It’s just a bummer we have to have a schedule and not let our own whims and sense of adventure dictate the route. I guess I’ll leave that to the fantasy of the song.

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