During the summer of my freshman year of high school, I went to Sydney, Australia. It was an exchange program set up through my dad’s company, which had offices all over the world. I was mildly obsessed with Australia during my middle school years; apparently, my parents knew this. I have no idea what sort of behind-the-scenes discussions went on between them before they presented the idea to me, and to tell the truth, I’m not at all sure how I learned of the opportunity. But I do remember the long plane ride; I remember the family I stayed with; I remember Woolhara, the suburb where they lived; I remember getting lost and inadvertently walking through the red light district of Sydney; I remember getting sick on a quiche I bought in the subway station; I remember sleeping with a hot water bottle; I remember being overtired one night and listening to the Grateful Dead on my walkman and having an almost-spiritual experience.
I remember a lot. Since school was in session for my host brothers and both parents worked, I was alone a lot and I explored the city on my own. I don’t keep in touch with the host family anymore. Consequently, there’s no one with whom I can reminisce. From time to time in the years that followed, I have been struck suddenly by one of those memories that are so uniquely mine. Of course, a lot of my memories are uniquely mine; strictly speaking, they all are. But Sydney in 1989 is so detached and isolated from everything else I know. Years later, I did the whole backpacking through Europe thing that college grads do; I did that alone, too, and, like my Aussie experience, there’s no one with whom I keep in contact from those travels. But there are all sorts of people who have been to all the European places I’ve been to, so it’s not in such a detached place.
One specific memory that has kept resurfacing in the past 17 years has been a song. It’s the perfect illustration of how detached those Australia experiences were. The song is called “One More River,” and I remember that it was very popular at the time. I heard it often, saw the video on TV, and since I liked it, I even paid attention to the lyrics. In fact, I still remember some of them. But I haven’t actually heard the song since 1989.
Today, the lyrics once again popped in my head, and I decided to do a little internet search for the song. I had done one about five or six years ago, but I couldn’t find much at the time. But I well know that the growth of the internet has been pretty much exponential in the past decade, so I figured it was worth a try again. And guess what? I found it. I found the lyrics and I even found the artist’s website. I have no idea how popular he is, but he has 12 albums out, so he must be doing alright. “One More River” was on his second album, which came out in 1989. Employing my pirating skills, I even found a copy of it. It sounds a little different than I remember it, but not much.
Tonight, just prior to playing the copy I found, I told Eileen, “this is a momentous occasion.” She went back to reading her book after the song was half done, but I sang along with the whole thing. Here it is: One More River