runnin’ down a dream
{scintilla day 3}


Talk about a time when you were driving
and you sang in the car, all alone.
Why do you remember this song and that stretch of road?


It was a beautiful day, the sun beat down, I had the radio on, I was drivin’

Tom Petty’s Full Moon Fever is one the few albums I’ve ever purchased immediately after hearing one song on the radio. (Counting Crows August and Everything After is another,  and more recently, just last year, Sean Rowe’s Magic was added to this short list.) All of these albums quickly wove themselves into the fabric of my life, becoming part of my personal tapestry.

But back to Tom Petty… I was young when this album came out, the same age that my son is now, 27.

My little boy was three at the time, and my first marriage was struggling for its last breath.

I remember exactly where I was when I heard Running Down a Dream for the first time, just a few miles from my house on a back country road. And it WAS a beautiful day. I had all the windows rolled down, (my tiny Toyota Tercel did not have air conditioning) and I pulled the band from my ponytail to let my long hair dance. I turned the volume up loud, I put the pedal down, and for those few minutes, just as the song goes, I was flyin’.

Later that year, I packed up my tiny car with a weekend bag and all my favorite cassettes. (Yes, I said cassettes.) It was mostly Dylan and Joni Mitchell, along with Mozart’s Requiem, and of course, there was Full Moon Fever. I drove myself to the Adirondack Mountains on Friday night after work. I had no reservation for a place to stay, no idea what town I would be stopping in, and no cell phone. None of these facts phased me in the least, but that is the blessing of being 27. I had a full tank of gas and a stereo, plus chocolate.

Late that night, after what I admit was a brief period of panic in which I realized it was quite possible that I had messed up and wouldn’t be able to find a place to stay in these sparsely populated mountains during off-season, I came upon The Melody Lodge. In a town called Speculator, which, in my rush past the sign, I read as Spectacular. Perfect, right?

The Lodge was the old-fashioned kind, the rooms didn’t even have their own bathrooms, everyone had to share the one down the hall. But I was there and it was dark and it was late and I wasn’t about to try a better place. And in retrospect, it was perfect. It was cheap and it was warm and the people working there were friendly. And I had all these blank notebooks just waiting for my words. I wanted to be a poet.

The next morning I got in my car with my music and I spent the entire day driving through those mountains, all the way up to the northernmost corner and back again, all the while playing an endless rotation of my favorite songs.

I was running down my own dream in the only way I knew how.

The day after that, I drove myself back home, back to my life, the one that was broken, and back to my son, who was not. And I knew that somehow, there would always be something good waitin’ down this road, and I would always be pickin’ up whatever’s mine.

I’m still running down a dream, still workin’ on a mystery, still goin’ wherever it leads.

And I’ve come to understand that I always will be.

Because anything is possible.




this post is part of the scintilla project. see more here.

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{scintilla day 3}

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