Are we really mid-October?
I’m a day late on this coffee date.
Last night, I sat down to type a few things out, but as I did my middle school BFF, honorary sister, and one the keepers of my heart texted me and I just love talking to her.
The older we get, the more we need the people we knew when we were young.
Danielle has been my family for, no lie, 25 years. I cannot believe I am old enough to say that I have kept a treasure of my heart for that long, but here we are. I met her in the weirdest of ways- when my family moved to Clarksville, Tennessee in 1992, we moved into her old house. We were in fourth grade. It’s a long story, obviously a lot of twists and turns that go into navigating elementary, middle (!), high, college, early adulthood, actual adulthood…I just cannot imagine a world in which we don’t have each other.
But the point is, we hadn’t talked in two weeks, and sometimes nothing happens in two weeks, and sometimes everything happens in two weeks.
Sometimes that everything is nothing to most people, like when your kids get sick. Sometimes it just means that someone like Tom Petty died.
Tom Petty was so much to Danielle and me.
And so we texted about our sick kids, and all the frustration and humor that goes along with that, when she said, “I have been meaning to ask you, you know about Tom Petty, right? You and I used to wear him out!”
You know, last year my parents moved away to their hometown, on land previously inhabited by my dad’s family. It’s amazing to dwell in your own history; Danielle and I… we feel our history slipping away daily. We don’t know who lives in that house on Dewitt Drive. I know that I could flip to “Just As I Am” on page 307 of the Baptist Hymnal, but our beloved church is gone. Our high school is hardly recognizable.
Tom Petty was home for us. He was a zip tie to our parents in those cliche teenage years.
Danielle’s sweet Mama died 15 years ago.
Here is a list, non-comprehensive, of our Tom Petty songs. There are some that extend beyond our friendship, but this is what Tom Petty meant to us:
“Last Dance With Mary Jane” OK, so…I remember very vividly when this album came out, and I played this album on repeat for at least a decade afterward, but I have to tell a (now) funny story about this song. We were maybe in 8th grade when this album dropped (of course no one said “dropped” back then, ha!) My sweet mom won tickets from the radio station to this show. As I said, Tom Petty was life to my family. But we were all very active in our church; our church was also life to us back then. In hindsight, it makes my heart so smile to think about my parents indulging in a night out in Nashville, listening to Tom Petty sans kids, and having fun. Wellllll, it was apparently the scandal of the century at our church. Who knows how anyone even knew they “attended” this concert, but since this was the flagship song of this (*AMAZING*) album, my parents caught so much heat for this concert.
“I Won’t Back Down” (Note: this is Jason Aldean’s performance on SNL after the Las Vegas tragedy; he was the performer when those 59 lives were lost; I can’t imagine a more fitting tribute to turmoil). Don’t let that previous anecdote fool you. If there was a song that could ever represent one person, this song would represent my dad. As a teen, of course, I did not always love this. But the minute I eased into adulthood and took notice its dynamic nature, I truly appreciate anyone that can stick to their beliefs, no matter how unpopular they are.
“Free Fallin'” Did you know this song is exactly the same four chords over and over? I once played guitar and can play all the Tom Petty hits and “Someone Like You” by Rod Stewart, ha! This song is the anthem of our youth, but I have a distinct memory of listening to this song with Danielle’s mom (Mama J, as I called her partly as a joke that just…stuck) driving down Memorial Drive in that Ford Ranger. It was a rough day at Richview Middle…but we played some air drums, air guitar, and vocals. All was well for roughly three minutes. (WHY DO WE NOT MAKE VIDEOS LIKE THIS ANYMORE?!?)
“Into the Great Wide Open” This whole album was quintessential for our middle school years, but what I remember most is that our friend Kylie’s brother Heath thought this song said “A pebble without a tune.” !!!! I will never forget this!!!! (side note: hearing Tom Petty’s voice on this chills me.) ((Side, side note: oh heeey Johnny Depp!!!))
“Time to Move On” Oh My Gah. Talk about history. When we were seniors in high school, I made the hardest decision of my life and decided not to go to college with the rest of our core group. There were so many factors: my (then) 11-year-old brother was battling leukemia. I had decided to get married, a decision that catapulted me into adulthood in a way I couldn’t quite grasp then, and truthfully don’t always grasp even 16 years later. This was before you could burn CDs or make playlists on all the platforms we can now…I will never forget the sadness of sending my friends off from Danielle’s driveway, and we made a pact to listen to this song and “Silver Springs” by Fleetwood Mac all day that day. I listened to “Time To Move On” probably 100 times that day.
which way to love land
which way to something better
which way to forgiveness
which way do I go?
It’s amazing that roughly seventeen years later, when everything is different, everything feels the same.