A few minutes after I walked in the doors of my Vermont home this evening, my good friend Shaunie J called looking to get together. Shaunie J works for Vermont Sports Car and we went to high school together, though he was a year older than I. He worked at my very first restaurant job that I had when I was in high school, catering in Underhill. That’s how we got to know each other, twelve or thirteen years ago, and we just went ahead and stayed friends. He was thinking of coming to Brazil to visit me when he was down in South America, but it didn’t happen. We see each other once a year, if that; the last time was in New Haven, at Roomba, when he drove down just to have dinner one night when I was working. Yeah, he’s a good guy.
Tonight, we met up in South Burlington, at the restaurant of a friend of his. Meeting up again with Shaunie J is like slipping into a pair of old jeans that fit exactly right. It’s like picking up exactly where we left off, as if one of us had to click over to a call waiting somewhere and it just took a year to click back and carry on with our conversation.
Shaunie J was the person who introduced me to rallying–as in, driving fast in a souped up car on country roads in the dark. He was, in fact, the person to show me how much fun it could be to drive wicked fast on back roads, dirt roads, through snow, through someone’s open field, in a Subaru in the middle of the night listening to Dave Matthews Band at deafening volumes as we literally caught air over the hills and turns of the roads in Underhill. (Mom, don’t have a heart attack; I’m alive now and that’s what’s important.) He was the one who showed me Ben & Jerry’s in Williston on prom night. He was the one who showed me driving up a Smuggler’s Notch ski slope in the spring with buddies. I heart Shaunie J.
We met for dinner and drinks tonight and sat for three hours talking about our past year: Brazil, work, a wedding he went to in Santa Fe. We took pictures (which I will load shortly) and laughed and joked and made plans to meet up again during my short time home. As we said goodbye in the rain outside of the restaurant, I snagged a CD he had in his car, promising to return it the first chance I get. It was Dave Matthews Band, “Under the Table and Dreaming.” I popped it into my rental car’s CD player as soon as I turned the car on and there I was again, back in high school, on dirt roads with Shaunie J in my memory. Funny how songs bring a person back in time.
I went to several DMB concerts back in the day and never once did he play “Best of What’s Around,” which is my favorite of his songs: more than “Crash,” more than “Satellite,” more than all those songs put together. I think I like it so much because it’s got a great bunch of lines, like “Turns out not where but who you’re with that really matters,” and like the title of this post, “See, you and me have a better time than most can dream of, have it better than the best, and so can pull on through.” Since I erased my hard drive a year ago and thus all of my music, I have been without lots of the songs I’d had on there originally, like this Dave Matthews song. And so it was tonight, as I drove home along the dirt roads I’d known years and years ago, and as this one song I’d never heard live, only in my room and in the car of my friend Shaunie J as we cruised along the back nighttime roads of rural Vermont, that I was back again, there with my friend, again a teenager in my mind. Tonight was a very good night.
(And don’t worry, Shaunie J. I won’t tell them about how you seriously used the word “angle-ometer” as if it was a real word tonight. No, that secret’s safe with me.)