I was twenty something when I first heard a John Prine song. A summer day on the back of motorcycle. Backroads of Wayzata, Minnesota. A place where songs, if you really heard them, were written just for you. A part time model and handyman was driving the Indian motorcycle. (Maybe he too, was just hanging on.) He was every cool kid I never dated in high school. The sun was back-of-the-neck hot and the music that played in our helmets said, “I only wanna dance with you” … and I felt pretty. Not like in the magazines. Not photo shoot pretty – but wild flower. Side of the road, blowing in the breeze, captured in a passing glance from a rearview mirror, pretty.
At this same time, not by chance, I was coming into my life. These songs that spoke honestly. These songs that made you laugh and helped you cry. These songs, these summer days, these people, were not just opening roads, they were building them, and telling me to ride on. I was meeting, listening to, gazing at, artists of all kinds. These were days of museums and book stores and record shops. These were days of restaurants that smelled of bread baking, last nights dreams and spilled drinks. Everything was in bloom. And John Prine sang of Paradise.
Everything I saw and touched and heard was giving me permission to be myself. It was suddenly (and a long time coming) OK to be yourself and fall in love with your own life. That was the gift, I suppose. That was the awakening. I hear a John Prine song now and all roads are open. The music flows through me like a summer breeze. I am a world away and exactly where I’m supposed to be. I see myself. And I feel… everything. A breeze kisses my face. John Prine sings, “Come on home. Just come on home.” I am there. Home. And life is, in fact, wild flower pretty.