If I Get Lost I’ll Sing a Walking Song

Song #3: One Way Ticket From Springfield

broomstickers

Listen:

To Download:

Recorded by Tommy Byrnes at Sovereignty Studios, Bernardston, MA

One Way Ticket From Springfield
Words and music by Carrie Ferguson

I’ve got a one way ticket from Springfield
Blind eyes in the back of my head
I’ve got a heart that won’t stop loving
And a mind full of crazy ideas
Well I know we gotta keep on changing
But not like the weather or like I change my clothes
The thing about life, the thing about life
You can act once or you can think twice
Sometimes I don’t know where I’m going til there I am

Well I woke up in the middle of loving you
Like I’d been doing it all of my life
You told me from the beginning you we’re gonna leave soon
You’d been planning since before I’d arrived
Well I know we gotta keep on moving
Songs in the sun are for those rainy days
The thing about life, the thing about life
You can act once or you can think twice
Sometimes I don’t know where I’m going til there I am

Well you can buy yourself a van but don’t throw away your broom
You can drive across the country and I’ll meet you at the moon
Cause I know I gotta keep on dreaming and if I get lost I’ll sing a walking song
The thing about life, the thing about life
You can think and act once, or you can think and act twice
Sometimes I don’t know where I’m going til there I am

*

In late August 1990, when I was 20,  I arrived in Amherst, MA, via a Peter Pan bus from Bradley Airport, by way of Arcata, CA.  I knew only one person in MA, and that was my Aunt Charlotte, who was in the process of moving down to Pennsylvania to teach English at a community college.   In a week I would be starting as a junior at the University of MA, Amherst.

This was a giant move for me, the first time I had really left my hometown of Arcata.  I had one clear intention, and that was to come out, as in out of the closet (although at that point I was so green that any form of sexuality would have been coming out).   I had chosen UMass Amherst to do this for several reasons, the first of which was super practical.  Through an inter-state student exchange program that existed at the time, I was able to attend UMass for a year, while still paying the tuition rate of my current school, Humboldt State University.  This option was not available at many of the other schools in the program and it was a great deal because at the time HSU cost only $750 a semester for in-state students.  So, I could afford to come out in Amherst!  This is probably one of the few fiscally responsible decisions I’ve made in my life.

Second, using the big exchange program’s school catalog I had meticulously researched the “student life”  section of several schools in order to determine who had the biggest and most active GLB  (back then the other letters hadn’t been added yet) community.  Lucky for me the biggest and best GLB club was at the cheapest school!  And, to make it even more right, I had actually been to Amherst once before while in high school to visit Aunt Charlotte.  And although nobody overtly told me, I knew she had been in a same-sex relationship for many years…which meant that there was definitely some gayness going on there.

Other than this one intention, which was somehow both vague and extremely clear, I had no clue as to what I was doing.  Once I moved into the dorms and Charlotte had packed up her UHaul and taken off for Pennsylvania, I was completely on my own.  I decided to start off on the right foot by announcing on the first night to my new roommate, while we were each in our little bunk beds on opposite sides of the room with the lights out, that I was bisexual.  (At the time, calling myself bisexual seemed somehow less intimidating than calling myself gay, or lesbian…like I could always “go back” if I needed to.  Besides, I was just barely anything-sexual at that point!)  Once again, the fates were with me because she immediately replied “Oh good!  Me too.”

And then that was that.  I was out to everybody I met from that moment forward, and it felt completely fine.    Within 3 weeks I had already experienced my first hot sex/hook-up/break up with a woman and moved on to a highly dramatic and desperately unsatisfying relationship (we both did our best!) with the first real love of my life.  I was right on track for my singer-songwriter career!

I had also found myself a new group of friends that were the most passionate, interesting, and exciting women I’d ever met.  They were all queer and activists and Women’s Studies or Social Thought And Political Economy students and we all worked together at (or were affiliated with) the student-run cooperative vegetarian restaurant on campus.  Most of them were  just a bit older than me and I felt that I had somehow had the fortune to stumble into a magical sisterhood or coven.  There was a sense of strength and power, of belonging to something amazingly cool, that I’d never experienced before.  It was exhilarating.  I used to imagine that we had this other life, that late at night we would meet on the roof of the Tower Library to fly out across the valley on our broomsticks.

During this period, I did not have regular access to a piano, and I didn’t play guitar yet, so all of my songwriting was done acapella.  I didn’t call it SONGWRITING,  it was just something I did all the time, especially when I was walking across the enormous UMass campus.  I was never someone who walked around with a Walkman, instead I made up songs to entertain myself.  But the songs had another function, too.  I was figuring things out, trying to understand and shape my swiftly expanding world into something that made sense to me.  Subconsciously I was trying to document and remember myself throughout all the changes that were happening, so that I could always find my way back to myself.  I ended up calling these songs Walking Songs.

 

6 thoughts on “If I Get Lost I’ll Sing a Walking Song

  1. You are so precious. Thank you for sharing your story and your song. How did I not know this story, but now I do and I have tears in my eyes. You also made me laugh too! Thanks for bringing a smile to my life.

    Like

  2. A walking song. I love that. I was a person who did go around UMASS with a walkman! I’ll never forget listening to Peter Gabriel during all my romantic heart breaks. Definitely got me through. I like the idea of singing yourself though those passages. And I’m glad I get to hear the songs you wrote then and now!

    Like

  3. I love the idea of walking songs! And getting the intro to CFerg’s History in the Valley, complete with bi roommates and a magical queer veggie coop and loves. Lucky for us this is where you landed :).

    Liked by 1 person

  4. oooh, i love your heart and feel so grateful that you ended up at umass and so blessed to be your friend and so excited to get to hear all these lovely tunes and read your beautiful words!!

    Liked by 1 person

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s