Thursday, March 19, 2009

I found Karen Carpenter!

I may be dating myself for missing her, but I have found Karen Carpenter! No, that's not her, that's Bella...
I used to listen to the Carpenters as a dreamy-eyed pre-teen and thought it was so cool that she and her brother sang together and were both so, well, groovy together, while me and my brother couldn't even play a decent game of croquet without fighting over who got the green mallet and if I got to it first he chased me and beat me up in front of the neighborhood kids until I agreed to be orange. Green was the best, by the way, because green went last so could capitalize on all the balls already in play. And yes, my brother usually chose to send me across the street as opposed to taking two extra shots when he gleefully hit my orange ball, humility not being in his vocabulary.
But back to the lovely romanic innocence of the Carpenters, "long ago and so far away..."! They are alive and well right here in Costa Rica on the only radio station playing US tunes with a couple regular DJ's who broadcast in English. Radio Doce is nothing short of a blast from the past and perhaps the past is all they can play legally within copyright laws, I don't know. I find myself singing along to tunes I have not heard in 30 years or so while driving Bella to school, speeding over the improbable background of rutted dirt roads as the faster you go the smoother it feels, always on the lookout for blind corners behind which may be mulling a whole herd of cows, some of whom may even be laying in the road depending on the hour. As I am usually late, I move rapidly along sans seatbelt, which would only serve to continuously tighten until I am inextricably pinned to my seat, clicking on the radio and becoming instantly transported back to my days at Gaudet Middle School. I might find myself back at the 8th Grade Prom while a blast of Summer Breeze fills my BeGo. Or I might find myself lamenting along once again with the woeful sounds of Karen herself singing "Don't You Remember You Told Me You Loved Me Baby?" bringing my teenage angst and raging hormones right back while I belt out that heartfelt song along with her, "I love you, I really do," wondering if I had someone in my back-then self to feel so achingly for. Today she happily sang "Sing A Song" with all those adorable children in the chorus and I was so sure I could have contributed mightily to that, once upon a time in the back seat of our family station wagon. You would never imagine she had died so young and tragically to hear so much cheerful innocence.
Hitting the power button for Radio Doce might bring me back to being both so cool and so insecure at Middletown High School on a different day. While I speed by the howler monkeys hanging in the trees overhead I find myself singing along with the Beatles to Lucy in the Sky with Diamonds, thinking in my surreal surroundings about the lyrics to this particular soundtrack and their trippy implications. A trip, indeed, glancing over my shoulder at Bella in the backseat wearing her rose colored glasses rimmed in pink sparkles which could have come straight from those decades gone by. And this just after picking up our German stained glass artist neighbor, Adrian, with his pony tail and sober for a change demeaner, it being morning and all, delivering him to the bus stop humming, "Do you Know the way to San Jose?"
I might find myself transported back to my college days by Pete Townsend, singing along to, "Let My Love open the Door," remembering my boyfriend dropping me off for our final farewell before I left for a semester in England. He died tragically while I was abroad. This too, while digesting my usual fake breakfast that Bella serves me cheerfully each morning with my coffee (see photo), a brown plastic waffle I sometimes supplement with a perpetually over easy cloth egg on a pink flower-shaped plate with some plastic grapes and an orange or pear. Yummy. I guiltily sneak them back to her play kitchen when I return home, not sure what else to do after I pretend to eat them day after Groundhog-ish day, thinking I wish the real food would magically replenish itself over and over in my own play kitchen. That would be the kind of recycling everyone could embrace!
So even though Andy and I sometimes draw straws to see who has to change out of their pajamas to make one of the four daily trips out to school, at least if I draw the short straw I have the anticipation of some time travel courtesy of Radio Doce to look forward to and accompany me on my journey. And sometimes when I pull up to Educarte or find myself at the entrance to the Country Day School singing "It's More than a Feeling" or some other Boston tune, thinking I am in the bucket seat of my '64 Dodge Dart or sitting under the stars on the beach of our Maine lake, I am confused for a moment. But the palm trees and blast of heat when I open my car door drop me right back into present day Costa Rica. Perhaps I should listen to some Tico tunes for a change.

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