…Those drifters days are past me now
I’ve got so much more to think about
Deadlines and commitments
What to leave in, what to leave out
Against the wind
I’m still runnin against the wind
I’m older now but still runnin against the wind
Bob Seeger, Against the Wind, 1980
Bob Seger’s 11th studio album, Against the Wind, was released 39 years ago today on February 25, 1980. At the time, I was a 7th grader at Gilmer Junior High in East Texas. In many ways, it was a magical time in my young life. It was the dawn of my adolescence and I was falling in love with so many people and so many things. It was also a very difficult time as my older brother had taken all he could take of my father’s abuse and joined the Marine Corps. He was just 16 when he signed papers. He left about a week after his 17th birthday.
Today, Billy says Against the Wind was the soundtrack of his service in the Marines. It was also the soundtrack of all our worry. We only drew reprieve during rare phone calls he made home with the assistance of ham radio operators.
At my mother’s funeral in December 2017, he talked about how hard it was for her when the Marine recruiter came to the house and asked her to sign papers. They required this because he was not yet 18. I remember how much she cried when he left home. We all cried, but she cried the most. My dad also cried about Billy leaving from time to time. He’d grow misty-eyed and wipe away tears with his large open palms. I felt so bad for him, even though I thought to myself, “You made him leave.”
He made us all leave, and in so doing set us all against the wind. My siblings and me. But, we never stopped loving him, and we love him still, and forgive him. His death was very hard on me — the loss — but not as hard as his long dying. Twelve years in a nursing home suffering from Pick’s Disease. The atomic bomb tests during Operation Ivy took their toll on him. They took a toll on all of us. I truly believe he did his best within the confines of his human frailties.
Here is a picture taken the year Seger released Against the Wind. I came across it some years ago on the now defunct blog, Isle Grande. It was taken in 1980 and features Gen-X girls in short jogging shorts and long tube socks. That was the look of the hour, friends. I liked it so much, especially the jogging shorts, which were usually made out of soft terry cloth. For me, this picture is simply divine. It captures my generation as we really were on a warm day in 1980, in a park with friends. (They call them green spaces now.) It was a day and then a decade and then, before we knew it, a generation against the wind.
And the years rolled slowly past
And I found myself alone
Surrounded by strangers I thought were my friends
Found myself further and further from my home and I
Guess I lost my way
There were oh so many roads
I was livin’ to run and runnin’ to live
Never worried about payin’ or even how much I owe
Movin’ eight miles a minute and for months at a time
Breakin all of the rules that would bend
I began to find myself searchin
Searchin for shelter again and again
Against the wind
Little somethin’ against the wind
I found myself seekin’ shelter against the wind…