“Do you love her? Are you going to marry her?”
My father and older brother were arguing in the front seat of our station wagon as we traversed western Montana en route to Yellowstone National Park. My brother was dating a woman our parents didn’t like, and my father was doing his best to nip the situation in the bud, conveniently ignoring the fact that my brother was a young man in his twenties who could do whatever he wanted.
I lay stone-faced in the backseat, a chunky eleven-year-old just out of the fifth grade. It was June, still too early in the summer for me to be very anxious about starting middle school in the fall. On balance, I had been enjoying the road trip from Seattle to Yellowstone with my father and brother. The latter was going to work for the park’s concessionaire for the summer, and we would meet up with our other brother, who was already there doing the same thing.
Not wanting to hear any more of the argument in the front seat, I rewound the cassette in my Walkman to the beginning of Side A and pressed play. The telltale drum and keyboard intro of “Invisible Touch” filled my preteen ears, and the pop perfection transported me out of that car and into my own imagination. My brother had given me the tape as a gift to celebrate finishing elementary school. He loved Genesis too, and I remembered sitting in his room at a very young age, just listening to their songs and dreaming of being old enough to go to concerts and buy my own records.
Well I don’t really know her, I only know her name
But she crawls under your skin
You’re never quite the same, and now I know
She’s got something you just can’t trust
And it’s something mysterious
And now it seems I’m falling, falling for her
I wondered what it must be like to have that kind of power over a man, the power to make someone fall for me. I was too young to understand the realities of love and relationships; to me, finding the love of my life was still the ultimate accomplishment and I wouldn’t shake that notion (or some variation of it) until I was in my early thirties and going through a divorce. But that June day, I put off growing up a little longer, watched the sky through the car window, and took refuge in the music.
(Song recommendation by Jeanne Sharp)