This weekend we had an unexpected visit from my brother who lives about 6 hours from us. What a pleasure it was to simply be together while dining or just chatting away. I love how we can pick up conversations wherever they left off because of the many years of common experience we share. We love to reminisce about all things from our childhood, but especially music, TV programs, advertisements (see my ode to commercials Child of the 70s—Jingles on my mind) and food (I include candy as food), of course. Every once and a while either one of us will send the other a short e-mail when we have heard something that sparks strong nostalgia. I think for the two of us music has the greatest impact on our memories. Though even the small 2-year difference between us sometimes means that we remember different songs better.
Music has been an important connector between my brother and me in a number of ways, but perhaps the most significant is that we have recorded songs together over the years. He wrote the music and played all the instruments while I wrote the lyrics and did the vocals. We recorded the songs wherever my brother was living at the time because he had all the recording equipment. That means we recorded in NJ at our childhood home, in his New York City apartment and perhaps the most unusual, in his Paris apartment. What wonderful times and fodder for my nostalgia. Thank you Erik for all the magical moments now and in the past.
By Billy Collins
Remember the 1340s? We were doing a dance called the Catapult.
You always wore brown, the color craze of the decade,
and I was draped in one of those capes that were popular,
the ones with unicorns and pomegranates in needlework.
Everyone would pause for beer and onions in the afternoon,
and at night we would play a game called “Find the Cow.”
Everything was hand-lettered then, not like today.
Where has the summer of 1572 gone? Brocade and sonnet
marathons were the rage. We used to dress up in the flags
of rival baronies and conquer one another in cold rooms of stone.
Out on the dance floor we were all doing the Struggle
while your sister practiced the Daphne all alone in her room.
We borrowed the jargon of farriers for our slang.
These days language seems transparent, a badly broken code.
The 1790s will never come again. Childhood was big.
People would take walks to the very tops of hills
and write down what they saw in their journals without speaking.
Our collars were high and our hats were extremely soft.
We would surprise each other with alphabets made of twigs.
It was a wonderful time to be alive, or even dead.
I am very fond of the period between 1815 and 1821.
Europe trembled while we sat still for our portraits.
And I would love to return to 1901 if only for a moment,
time enough to wind up a music box and do a few dance steps,
or shoot me back to 1922 or 1941, or at least let me
recapture the serenity of last month when we picked
berries and glided through afternoons in a canoe.
Even this morning would be an improvement over the present.
I was in the garden then, surrounded by the hum of bees
and the Latin names of flowers, watching the early light
flash off the slanted windows of the greenhouse
and silver the limbs on the rows of dark hemlocks.
As usual, I was thinking about the moments of the past,
letting my memory rush over them like water
rushing over the stones on the bottom of a stream.
I was even thinking a little about the future, that place
where people are doing a dance we cannot imagine,
a dance whose name we can only guess.