When There Was Bill

When I was small and it was the weekend, my folks would put records on, and Olivia would dance with me in the living room. I remember Stevie Ray Vaughan and Van Morrison and the Beatles. Mostly I remember The White Album. I thought “Bungalow Bill” was “Buffalo Bill,” and O and I would argue about what was right. I imagine Louise, the youngest, propped up on the couch and watching us in bewilderment, too brand new to know who the hell Buffalo/Bungalow Bill was, or the Beatles. We’d keep at it until Dad called for one of us to ride with him and help pick up the pizza–George’s, probably–and now I wonder how much we actually helped with this particular errand. What I remember, and miss, is how his truck reeked of steel and iron and copper, of tools well-used.

Sitting alone in the office on a Tuesday night, not having done enough at my comfortable desk that does not reek of anything, I think to get up and close the window, but don’t; the George’s supper rush drifts through, suddenly redolent in the waning light, and Main is quiet after a day full up with the din of construction. They’re building a new SPAM Museum, which will fill the gap left by a January fire that burned in the middle of a subzero night several years ago. Sometimes it’s hard to know where there is less mercy, I guess. It’s cool with the sun setting behind the brick of the high school, where there was a fight not long enough ago over nothing, or something, or not enough or too much.

The cops light out again and again from the station across the street, bound for someplace, their sirens going and going and somehow not ever gone. I dig up The White Album on Youtube and hit play, seeking nothing more than a moment of what’s gone, just one split second from those forever Friday nights.

Tonight I am the victim of my own nostalgia, which is probably another one of those awful millennial traits you’ve all been warned about. But when you grow up dancing to Blackbird and Rocky Raccoon and you spend Friday nights driving home with a George’s Pizza warm in your lap and your dad driving the truck back home where there will be music and dancing until bedtime and where the only fights you will have are over what to call this Bill, whoever the hell he is, that’s something to be nostalgic over. And I’m not sorry.


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