I've been thinking of eighth grade lately. That was the fall when The Beatles released the immortal single with "Yellow Submarine" on one side and "Eleanor Rigby" on the other.
What an amazing record. A simple giddy romp, almost a children's song, backed by the gorgeously mournful portraits of the isolated Miss Rigby and Father MacKenzie. All the lonely people, where do they all come from? And the band begins to play.
I confess to being a weird kid, but those who knew me then are already aware of this. I would walk down the halls of the school singing "Yellow Submarine" at the top of my lungs. The song filled me with such innocent joy that I didn't care how eccentric that made me seem — or perhaps I was relishing the chance to be eccentric.
Strangely enough, not long ago, sitting in the audience taking notes as a small-town crowd debated whether to allow a fast-food restaurant to invade their unique tourist community, I was hit by that old familiar sense of innocent joy. No, I didn't break out in a chorus of "We all live in a yellow submarine," but I did feel a wonderful contentment of being back where I belong.
Odd to be so happy at something that at times has felt like drudgery over the years. But it was a warm understanding that chronicling the news of a small community has turned out to feel like part of my life's mission. We all have a purpose, and it's delightful to be doing it.