U2’s Bad: The Lifeline


Person’s Assignment:

A song comes on the radio and instantly, you’re transported to a different time and place. Which song(s) bring back memories for you and why? Be sure to mention the song, and describe the memory it evokes. 250 words.

In 1989, Beth, “Foxley Moxley,” and I were in Pembroke, NC to compete in the North Carolina Theatre Conference (NCTC) State Festival. At least, I think it was Foxley Moxley, though it could have been Eli. The memory is foggy. I was a sophomore, they were seniors. It was the second show I’d ever designed (as a lighting designer,) and the first real road trip I can remember that didn’t include parental supervision. It was a time before GPS, when we had to rely on actual paper maps and directions to get us from point A to point B. We had finished day one (check in & whatnot) and were in unfamiliar territory on our way to crash at the house of a student from a “nearby” competing school.

Being from Raleigh, we were used to city highways. We learned to drive on the Beltway (now 440) and, even as high school students, could merge on & off as well, if not better than, some of my current adults friends who say “I hate driving on 440.” We were used to city street lights, city directions (the ones with actual street names), and city churches, and we were traveling down a two lane country highway, in the dark, with no manmade structures to be seen for miles on end.

It was a visually dull & exceeding long drive, so we passed the time with chatter & music. Foxley Moxley (Eli?) had two cassette tapes with him: U2’s Unforgettable Fire & U2’s War, and we listened to them repeatedly. The cassette would end, either Beth & I would yell “FLIP,” and off we’d go again, listening to the haunting riffs of The Edge’s guitar underneath our oh so important high school topics of conversation. Foxley Moxley loved him some U2, and, because of this trip, I learned to love them as well.  I sat in the back (sophomores rarely earn shotgun when seniors are in the car) and mostly listened, only contributing occasionally when they’d prompt me to do so. I preferred listening to small talk instead of contributing, still do.

The desolate country “highway” began to look creepy after awhile. We’d been discussing favorite books and movies at the time and probably discussing Stephen King, as the further we drove into the isolated area the more creeped out we got. I remember passing an old shack of a house with a black dog on the porch that we could barely see until the headlights reflected red against his eyes. Bam: Cujo. Then we passed one of those old country one room white churches with the steeple on top & red stained glass windows. There were people inside, which we thought odd since it was a Wednesday night (not discovering until much later that Wednesday night church is actually a thing in rural NC.) As we passed, it appeared as if they all simultaneously turned to stare. Bam: Children of the Corn. Giggle filled screams crowded the car as Foxley Moxley picked up speed in search of the next turn.

We escaped the terrors of our imagination, obviously, and eventually arrived at the student’s house. I remember sleeping on the floor, or attempting to sleep rather, too keyed up from the adventure and the upcoming competition to truly rest. I remember the excitement of the next day’s performances, and the awards we won. I remember the drive back in daylight being far less frightening than the previous night’s adventures. I remember hours of U2 on the stereo. I remember laughter, and I remember Beth.

Beth and I were friends for a long time, and then we weren’t. The details are for a different story on a different day, but in short, our friendship ended poorly. Words were said…screamed, rather, and a phone was slammed back to the receiver (pre-cell phone era.) Years of laughter-filled road trips over, a friendship broken. That was 1998.

I tried over the years to pick up the phone, to call, to make amends. I couldn’t find her. Then, when Facebook started, I tried again, and again to no avail. Of all the high school/college friends that I had, she was the one I needed to reconnect with, to apologize to, and to forgive.

Beth died unexpectedly in 2011.

I did not get the chance to make amends.

I will not get the chance to make amends.

Every time I hear U2’s Bad, the image of that country road flits past my eyes, and The Edge’s seemingly endless guitar riffs release whatever vice happens to be gripping my mind at the time. It is my aural woobie, my sedative, my calm in the eye of the storm. When I hear it I am immediately transported back to an easier time: one filled with laughter, hope, and friendship. It is my reminder…to let it go.

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2 responses

  1. Suzanne, life has a way of reminding us to invest in people and also to let go of the “unnecessary”. Thanks for your gift! Ike

  2. Pingback: The Blogaversary Post | Chainsaws & Stilettos

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