Tuesday, April 15, 2008

The mists of time

The tune was familiar, tinkling just so above the conversation, and I'm blaming a headache for not recognizing it sooner.

I ducked into the Half Barrel on the Strip about 4 to meet my friend and superb history professor Steve Ash. We try to get together once a year or so to catch up.

Steve teaches undergraduate classes on both Tennessee history and Civil War/Reconstruction at UT. He's an excellent lecturer and historian. I can recall leaving his sessions with a tinge of regret, wishing I could sit there for another hour and hear more about the plot to remove Andrew Johnson from office.

Another excellent professor, Lorri Glover, couldn't join us yesterday, so Steve told me all about his new book and we talked about the state of the world and swapped names of historians we liked and books we've loved. I told him about a longstanding project I've had bouncing around profiling a Marine unit in Vietnam. Steve thinks I have something and encouraged me to get off my butt and write the book.

Somewhere amid the talk about Bruce Catton and Thornton Wilder, I heard the song. Familiar. Friendly.

Finally, realization struck. RobinElla.

I noticed that the guy behind the bar was playing music via iTunes. I couldn't quite tell, but I think the song was "Waiting," from Robin's last album, "Solace for the Lonely." I smiled and thought about the rainy Friday night in Maryville when she sang "Left, Right, Back Together," and I swore later I'd never heard anything quite so beautiful.

Steve told me to stay in touch and disappeared into the afternoon. I finished my burger and drove back toward Halls, high on music and conversation, wishing I'd never left my dreams of becoming a historian lying back there somewhere in the mists of time.

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Anonymous Bill Lyons said...

Thanks for posting this and bringing the sound of Robinella to mind. I do enjoy your writing here.

3:24 PM  

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