I wave at a taxi turning onto Las Heras from the other side of the crosswalk. The driver stalls and smiles at me as I cross the street, walking behind the car and opening the passenger-side backseat door. I tell him my destination, and he puts the car into gear and turns up the music.
I hear the smooth horns and the rattle of a tambourine playing an introduction to Bob Marley’s beautiful voice coming through the car speakers.
“Oh please, don’t you rock my boat, cause I don’t, want my boat, to be rocking.”
I can’t stop myself from singing along with the Wailers’ backup vocals.
“Rock my boat. I like it like this. Satisfy my soul.”
All I ever really wanted to be was a Wailer.
The cab driver turns around and says “ahh, te gusta Bob?”
I smile. “Si, che, me encanta.” Che is overly familiar, but we are clearly kindred spirits.
I lean back and let it flow. We are cruising to the music. The car is our spaceship and we’re on a journey through time and space and everything is perfect. I close my eyes, and transport myself back to my childhood. I’m with my family, driving down a lonely highway on a long road trip. It is dark out, and the music is our only entertainment. We don’t speak, we don’t argue. We just lay back and listen to some reggae. Dad would fill the six CD changer with Bob Marley’s Legend and let it play.
If you met my Dad, you wouldn’t guess that he loves reggae. But he does.
Reggae was the music that made my young self realize that my parents were people before they had children. There was a time when they had fewer responsibilities, and didn’t live their lives under the constant vigilance of impressionable young eyes. I always wondered what it would be like to take a ride back from the future and meet my parents when they were just people. Some parts of their pre-parent lives crossed over, but I only saw brief glimpses of this during Bob Marley serenaded road trips and on the rare occasion I could persuade Dad to tell us about his fraternity days.
The taxi arrived at the destination too soon. I wasn’t ready for my sweet little reggae road trip to be over. I paid the price on the meter, and while the driver was fumbling for change, I wanted to tell him that while we traveled from Las Heras to Juan B Justo, I traveled back to my childhood. I wanted to tell him that the song induced the melodic comfort of my fondest memories and that listening to good music in the car is life’s most underrated joy. But there was no point in saying it aloud. He already knew.
Instead I just smiled and sang along: “Satisfy my soul.”