It was the winter of 1985. I was working full time as a Licensed Practical Nurse in a local hospital, on the daytime shift. That meant getting to the hospital by no later than 6:30am so I could be on my unit, ready to listen to what they called “report”, the verbal dialogue from one team to another explaining what was going on with our patients. Work officially began at 7:00am.
We lived about ten minutes away, or perhaps fifteen minutes if you drove the speed limit, which we seldom did unless we knew a cop was watching. Getting from home to the work place meant driving on paved roads that traveled through flat and fertile farm land. The flat part is significant here because in the winter the winds would roar across those fields and create amazing snow drifts if there was even a few inches on the ground.
The little beastie I drove during this time was a 1969 VW Beetle, all black, with the original heat exchanger heat – meaning almost no heat inside – and a metal steering wheel. I can still smell the ‘aroma’ of that little car when I think of her. And the sound of the engine on an old VW Beetle is unlike any other engine sound, kind of like it has it’s own jingle.
Sound. There was a radio that I think could only get AM stations. On snowy winter mornings I would often have the radio on so I could listen to music. That winter I often heard a particular song, made popular by Linda Ronstadt, entitled “What’s New”. Her voice was amazing, honey smooth and clear, and the notes were in my own voice range…so I would sing my heart out right along with her. It didn’t matter to me what the song was about particularly, it was just the sound of her voice that I fell in love with.
There was romance in that song. And I look at that time of driving to work so early in the morning, in that tiny car, and the whole scene takes on a romantic look of it’s own. I still ‘see’ the yellow glow of street lights near where I parked, the fluorescent glow of the windows on the hospital as I walked to the door. I can feel the crunch of the snow beneath my boots, the warmth of the long down coat I wore and my leg warmers. (Loved those leg warmers!)
Then there is the ice on the windshield that would have to be scraped off, both inside and out because defrost was nonexistent. Not so fun. Kind of blows the whole romantic memory thing out of the water.
Yet I still feel the lift in my soul when I would sing along with Linda…because many times I still do the same today. Different artists and songs, but still that same thrill of singing my heart out – in the car where no one can hear.