Many, many, years ago, I lay on the floor of my bedroom in the digs I had shared for my final year in a beautiful, double-storeyed house on a tree-lined street in idyllic Small University Town, and contemplated the whirlwind four years I had spent there. I was surrounded by my earthly possessions in a state of almost-packed. I was leaving the next day, leaving behind my student life.
Eddie Vedder crooned to me from my tape recorder (yes, that long ago) as I lay there, contemplating my life. I can see it, feel it, hear it, like it was yesterday. Off He Goes.
I remember the smell of the awful brown carpet that lay on the floor of that room that, if it could speak, could tell so many stories of learning and loving and growing up. We felt so adult, we were so little. The feeling on my cheek was rough as I cried (and cried) for leaving that place that I loved, leaving my friends that I loved more, leaving that life. I was standing on the edge of something new, something different, something unknown. Things were about to change.
I had no idea at that moment how drastically they would change. Within twelve hours my world would crumple in on itself under a blazingly hot summer Karoo sky and I’d be thrown into an unknown world from which I’d need to use every ounce of my strength to claw myself out. And the strength of my family, and my friends and a whole bunch of people that would become friends. And we did, we clawed our way out. We’re, possibly, even better people for it.
Fast-forward many, many, years, to a house in the mountains, a place with no cell phone reception and air so clear it made my lungs sing and my heart swell with joy. A dark late night arrival into this magic place, red wine, my two favourite allies (apologies Red Hot Chili Peppers) and one of those nights where time melts, red wine flows and conversations dance. And as we solved the problems of the world, Eddie Vedder joined us – Off He Goes – this time from the iPod (how we’ve advanced!), and I was flung back at warp-speed, and left breathless.
It happens every time I hear that song.
I think I should write a letter to Eddie Vedder. He’s written one of the main songs on the soundtrack to my life and I think I should say thank you. I wonder if he’d reply?