Trip Music

Today I drove down the highway to see my daughter.  I listened to the local NPR station until it wouldn’t play.  I laugh myself silly when I hear the Saturday NPR shows, Car Talk and What Do You Know and Wait, Wait Don’t Tell Me.  I wonder what people think when they see me enjoying myself so much, all alone in my car.  When I ran out of NPR range I tried to find another NPR station, but I was in gospel, hip-hop and country music territory.  I bopped along to hip-hop for a while, then got fed up with commercials and pulled out a Dave Matthews CD. 

I can remember some whole trips by the music that reigned as I travelled.  In the fall of 2001 I made a memorable trip.  I was travelling to a conference that I wanted to attend.  The conference was the national convention of a group that fosters good international relations, starting with personal relationships between children from different countries.  I was not alone on the trip.  I was taking a boarding student from a local school home to see his family.  It was his fall break, his first year at the boarding school, and he was powerfully homesick.  The family could not afford even a bus ticket for him to come home, and since he was my host child, I decided to go to the conference, not too many miles from his home, and take him to his mom. 

Host families play a large role in making boarding students comfortable at that particular local school.  I had fallen into the program kind of by accident.  My daughter was only in eighth grade and boarding started at ninth grade, so I wasn’t recruited to be a host parent.  I happened to notice that a number of minority students entered as ninth grade boarders, and wondered if they had minority families to make them feel at home.  I knew that for some children that wouldn’t be necessary, as they came from very racially diverse backgrounds, but some were entering an integrated school and living situation for the first time, and might feel more comfortable with a host family that looked like their folks at home.  When I wondered out loud, I was matched with a child.

The child they gave me was already much-loved.  He arrived at boarding school with his brother and sister, brother-in-law, mom, both grandmothers, and a grandfather.  Within days of arrival, he was adding us to his groupies.  He came to our house for frequent weekends, immediately selecting his own spot in the house and treating my daughter like a sister.  Everyone on campus loved him, too.  His only difficulty was being severely homesick. 

When time came for the fall break, my daughter already had an out-of-town trip planned.  It was me and the kid.  I told him I’d go if he brought the music.  He brought a case packed with CD’s, and at first he selected very tame music.  He happened to have a grandfather who had been in a famous seventies funk band, and I was surprised to see that he had none of his grandfather’s music.  Instead, most of his music was hip-hop and rap.  In making his selections, he told me there was stuff that I “couldn’t hear”.  I was looking for rhythmic, lively music to keep me alert, so I insisted on hearing some of his rap music.  I was introduced to some fantastic music on that trip, using my selective hearing to tune out any questionable lyrics. 

That trip culminated in our arrival at the conference hotel.  The young man’s family was coming to meet us, picking him up to spend the next few days at home.  He stayed on the phone, checking to see how close they were.  When he received the call saying they were in the parking lot, he let out an ear-crunching, joyous whoop and ran down the hall to the exit door.  I walked out more slowly to find him hugging his mom and punching his older brother at the same time, with everyone smiling and talking simultaneously. 

When I think of that young man now, sometimes I hear Bone, Thugs ‘n Harmony in the background. 



One Response

  1. That was so sweet! 🙂 I bet that boy remembered your kindness for the rest of his life.

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