Today Joe and the baby and I were driving in my very rickety 1997 Kia Sephia. It was rattling, so Joe opened the glove box to see if he could wedge a hunk of paper in there to make the sound go away. When he moved those forgotten papers, I discovered an ancient cassette tape of Queen. “Classic Queen” to be exact. It made me smile. Years before I even got that car, the songs on that cassette had been good friends to me during a time of turmoil.
In 1992, I packed all of my hopes and dreams into a 1970 Volkswagon Beetle and moved from my mom’s house in Mesa, Arizona, to Heritage Halls at BYU in Provo, Utah. My plan was to be a music major. I had already registered for all of the classes. The only trouble was, when I auditioned during the first couple of days of school, I didn’t make it into the major. It was my first time living away from home, in a brand new town, at a brand new school, and I was spending the first couple of weeks dropping classes and begging teachers to add me to classes that were already jam packed. I cried a lot. I was terrified. I can’t even quite remember how Queen got into the picture but it was pretty magical. At that time in my life, I have to admit to you that I listened to a lot of Chicago, Celine Dion, and James Taylor, with the occasional Kenneth Cope or Michael McLean. And if I was really crazy, U2. One of my friends back home liked Queen and I had the cassette for some reason, but it hadn’t gotten very heavy rotation before, even though I liked a song or two. But at that point of turmoil at BYU, it was the heaviest music I had, and that was what I was in the mood to hear. Go ahead and laugh. Laugh at 18 year old Cherie Call for feeling all edgy with the Queen music. I don’t even blame you.
So I blasted that music and the most amazing thing happened. It inspired me. At first I laughed to myself as I heard the chorus, “I’m going slightly mad, I’m going slightly mad, it finally happened, it finally happened….” But then the song “Under Pressure” came on and I just wanted to whip myself into shape and fix things. I filled up that schedule. In the end, I had a nice set of gaggy general education classes, plus clogging, folk dancing, Spanish, and some crazy little class called Music 186, AKA, Beginning Songwriting, the class that changed my life.
It was a weird year, but I learned to solve problems all by myself. Even if mommy would have been there, she couldn’t have convinced the classical voice faculty that I should be a choral education teacher someday. Thank goodness. When I thought my world was going to crumble to dust those first few days, just because of the sheer weight of how terrifying it was, I came up out of the dust, and I clogged, folk danced, and habla espanoled my way through the first semester. I also found myself face to face with my childhood love, songwriting. It all worked out.
But now, why, 20 years later, was I riding in a super beat up car through the streets of Spanish Fork, Utah? Easy. I got in a little fender bender the other day. No one was hurt, it was really minor, and I don’t want to talk about it. (Translation: it was my fault.) Today we went to the shop to pick up the minivan while the kids were in school, and we took the Kia. I let my very kind and understanding husband back the shiny minivan out of the auto body parking lot to be safe, and then we were all on our way.
When I got home I glanced at my phone and remembered the date. 9/11. It wasn’t the first time today I realized what day it was. Don’t worry. I promise I’m not really about to compare failing an audition or getting into a small car accident with the horrific events of 9/11. But today I didn’t camp out in front of the TV to watch those planes hit those towers over and over again. I understand the need people have to do that I hold no judgement. We all deal with tragedy in different ways. But today I didn’t do it that way. I haven’t forgotten what happened on 9/11/01. I never will, and I don’t think I ever should. But today I took my kids to school, ate lunch with my husband, drove my freshly repaired car, went to the store, and did a couple hundred other little insignificant things. And tonight I will thank God that we’re all still here to do those things together. I’ll thank him for the humans and angels who made it possible eleven years ago and who continue to do so every single day. I’ll also thank God that we as humans are hard wired to dust ourselves off after bad things happen. No matter how big or small. We cry, and then we live on. We work, we love, we laugh, we dream. And I hope we always thank.