We poured root beer over the ice cream in the disposable travel mugs while my son retrieved three straws and my daughter found the whipped cream to perfect the makeshift root beer floats for our early nighttime drive. Then with my son in the backseat and my daughter in the front passenger side, I gave my daughter the CD that would be the soundtrack for the evening ride.
“It’s Hannah Fair,” I said as I pulled out the CD from the white sleeve.
In the inside jacket cover of the CD was the inscription with my daughter’s name, signed by the singer and I pointed it out. “Oh, wow,” my daughter said. A month or so ago I went to the last party at the Desultory Theatre Club at the Morrison Building with Tracy Walton and Hannah Fair. Hannah performed first and then during the intermission she sold her CD called OPEN ROAD from a traveling case, signing them for anyone who bought one.
Shifting the car into drive, we drove forward.
Our purported mission was to look for cheap but durable bowls as our collection had dwindled over time due to helpful youthful hands and a solid kitchen floor tile. We were going to travel to the east side of Torrington where the big box stores gave the illusion of real options when “E Minor Blues” began. Hannah Fair wailed “She will never love you…like I do. She can try, You know I’d love to see her try” and my daughter turned it up and I smiled.
The title of the album was called “Open Road” after the second track. My daughter scoured the CD case, reading everything on it. Had there been liner notes, she would have read them too. The ideas of “Home” and of traveling away are ever present on the album. As I listened to it I thought about the fact that in two days my daughter would be flying with her mother to Nebraska, and visiting there for a short time that will seem very long to her brother and me. During the winter I had earned a free plane ticket and I had given it to my daughter for this special summer vacation treat with her grand parents. She was supposed to pack her clothes as soon as we returned home.
The root beer float had already been emptied by the time we hit Route 183. My daughter held the CD case, looking down at it or out the window.
“What are you thinking about, sweetie?” I asked.
“Oh….nothing,” she said.
“Ok. Did you want to go to the store or did you want to continue driving?”
“Let’s drive,” she said.
I decided then to give her a gift, one far more valuable than the CD; I gave her the gift of shared silence. Through the turns through the valley of green, the music played and we did not talk about idle things or weigh it down with heavier tones, we simply shared the time with our thoughts, together.
We found our way to Collinsville, a beautiful quaint Connecticut town by the river. From the car we could see a restaurant called Francesca’s having a busy night both inside and in the comfortable seating outside. It was the kind of restaurant couples go to on dates, where you don’t need to take a photo of your food with a cell phone, you can simply say, “I went to Francesca’s” and that would suffice.
“Can we take a walk around, Dad?”
“You want to walk around here?”
“Yeah! Maybe there’s a toy store!”
“I’m not sure there’s a toy store and even if there was, it probably won’t be open but if you want to…”
We pulled in to the municipal parking lot and parked. I pulled out the key but the music continued playing until one of us opened the door.
“What do you think of Hannah Fair?” I asked my daughter.
“I guess she sings with a lot of soul…so I like it,” she said.
In those few words she had captured exactly what I wanted to say in my review!
The sun was setting as we crossed the bridge, taking a look at the river, the kayaks and the historic signs. The children raced along the path, seeing ducks land in the water. Then we turned back to the town, walking past ornate houses, unique and private. It was the kind of a community where folks sat on their front porches to read and some left their kayaks still on the top of their cars. There was an apartment building on the main roadway and my daughter said it “looked like New York” and I knew exactly what she was talking about. We did not find a toy store but it was “ok” as we made our way back to the car and prepared to make our drive home, the long way around. Fair’s “Where the River Bends” played as we left Collinsville.
It was dark out when we hit Burlington and the CD was still grasped in her hands. I told her she could turn the light on if she wanted to read the CD again, which she did. We were not home but we were at the town line when the CD returned to track one again.
As we turned down a street in the north end we could see the giant and glowing moon unencumbered by any cloud cover, living up to the term Super Moon on this special night.
“Did you want to take a walk and take a look at it?” I asked.
She was happy to see it through the windshield. We parked in the driveway and my son got out and ran down the stretch to the front of the house. My daughter waited for the CD to eject so she could put it in the sleeve. Grasping her treasure, she ran out to follow her brother. I could hear the footsteps as I gathered the rest of the items to bring inside. Halfway down the drive, she stopped and turned to wait and see that I was out of the car.
“Do you have everything, Dad?” she asked.
“I’ve got everything, sweetie,” I said.
She ran inside to pack her CD in her suitcase.