Up on the Roof

It’s a little bit funny, this feeling inside.

Casco House 1Can’t leave my time with the Family Project at the Casco Point house without lingering on one fleeting moment—being up on the roof.

When that exactly happened I can only guess, but it was certainly before high school in 1975, and during a summer after we’d moved to Minnesota in ’71. Dad was probably cleaning the gutters and had a ladder up. It was a pleasant summer day, much as it is as I’m writing now.

Our yard was surrounded by cottonwoods, maybe a pine tree, oaks and elms, all mottling the rooftop with shade and sunlight. It made for an astonishing view of the lake. And while I was up there, I recall patches of moss.

Which, of course, I kicked off.

No song on the radio quite affected me like Elton John’s “Your Song.” As I’ve said before, I was a pop song-a-holic and hardcore lyrics sponge. While some people never hone in on lyrics, I dig right in. I like to crack into the story, what the song’s “really about.”

In “Your Song,” the singer haltingly reveals his feelings to the person for whom he’s written the song. That hesitancy so contrasts with the sweeping orchestral accompaniment that I’m drawn in deeper.

“I sat on the roof, and kicked off the moss … well, a few of the verses, well, they’ve got me quite cross…”CascoPt2Fall

Hey, I could relate to this guy, whoever he was! He wrote poetry. So did I!

Yeah, it was tough getting the words right. You had feelings churning inside you and you wanted to get them out—make a declaration, pure and simple.

But maybe there was something more. Maybe, the song seemed to say, getting it right wasn’t all it was cracked up to be. Perhaps it’s better to start from where you are: “Hey you! I can’t really remember if your eyes are green or blue, but anyway, you know, not to get all sappy and all, but they are really sweet and I kinda dig you, you know?”

It was something of a revelation. The songwriter wrote the song, probably reworked it a couple times, recorded it, got the disc pressed and—boom—there it was on the radio—sounding a little half-assed! But maybe that was okay.

I probably heard “Your Song” at a time in my life when I was first curious about girls. How exactly was a guy supposed to break through his shyness and connect with one? And what could be a better message for a kid with nascent romantic urges than it didn’t have to all be, “I think I love you!” It could also be, “How wonderful life is while you’re in the world!” It seemed to ring true: gratitude that your beloved merely existed was a stronger expression. And way less awkward.

My beautiful pictureWhen we lived in Maryland, Dad helped us build a treehouse in the backyard apple trees. I loved spending time there. I like being up high. So sitting on the roof brought that all back.

And like my night-walking feelings, coming home after a busboy shift at the Club, the roof conjures up its counterpart—a daytime version, if you will.

Where nightwalking was for dark, murky, wild longings, daytalking was about openly having it out, singing loud and proud, making it clear that “you can tell everybody, this is your song.”

But I don’t want to get down from the roof just yet.

It’s the end of summer, 1978. We’ll have two more full summers in that house before the Family Project relocates, while I’m away at college, to a farmhouse west of Mound. The roof of the little renovated summer cottage is gone now, after another owner remodeled and added an upper floor.

It’s a strange, sad feeling to realize that. I’m entirely cast out of a past long gone—far from the only real home I’ve ever known.

~ by completelyinthedark on July 12, 2013.

One Response to “Up on the Roof”

  1. Reblogged this on Completely in the Dark and commented:

    A perfect spring day to be outside … Or maybe up on a roof? All-new post next Friday, May 29. Happy Memorial Day weekend!


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