In late 1990, I was 20 years old and living in Waycross, Georgia. My apartment was one of four in an old house that had been converted. There were two apartments upstairs and two downstairs. Mine was the smallest as there was a laundry room put in behind it. I had two rooms and a tiny bathroom. When you visited my apartment, you walked in to a combination living room kitchen. The kitchen area, separated by a kind of bar/counter, was a tiny bit larger than the living room, which was only big enough for the one chair it contained.
The bed room was connected to the living room by two doors. One was just the usual door leading right to the other room, the other was a bit odd. You opened that door up to the closet that both rooms shared. You could walk through the closet to get to either room if you wanted. I guess it was their way of giving you a sort of coat closet area from the living room (like you even had room to entertain enough people to need a coat closet).
During the time I lived in this apartment, I had no telephone or television. What I did have was my library card and the radio. Not having a car, or a driver’s license for that matter, I would often walk to the library and lug home stacks of books. At night, I would either sit in the living room in front of the little gas heater and read, or talk my Walkman radio (remember those?) out on the front porch and just sit in the dark and listen.
One thing I loved about this apartment was the fact I could just open up the front window and, ducking my head down just a little, walk right out onto the front porch. I didn’t like using the front door a lot at night because I was always afraid of disturbing my neighbor across the hall (which is also why I wouldn’t turn on the porch light). So, I’d go through the window, sit in one of the rocking chairs on the front porch and scan through the channels on my Walkman looking for something to listen to.
One night, a voice came over the airwaves that immediately brought my scanning to a halt. I listened to him for a few minutes and realized he sounded like my dad. I had come across Garrison Keillor, whom I would learn was from Minnesota, which is probably why he sounded like me dad who was born and raised in St. Paul (where I was born as well). My dad and I weren’t close, but I often got sentimental for him and for Minnesota even though I hadn’t lived there since I was 6 years old.
For 20 years, I have been a fan of Garrison Keillor and his radio show, which was later called “The Prairie Home Companion.” I can’t say I listen every week, but I listen as often as I can. No matter what’s been going on in my life, his show has always been there. My big dream was to one day travel to St. Paul to visit my dad and take him to see the show at The Fitzgerald Theatre there (the show’s home base basically). Unfortunately, that never happened. But, I have continued to dream of seeing the show live.
Tomorrow night, I am finally realizing that dream. After 20 years, I am going to see Garrison Keillor when he brings “The Prairie Home Companion Summer Love Show” to Brevard. And I’m hoping to get to actually meet him and have my picture taken with him as well. How cool would that be!