I’m finishing 2016 with a big time-traveling, musical blowout. Tom has given me a turntable, and I’ve christened it with my favorite rock and roll song ever, Bruce Springsteen’s “Thunder Road.” I don’t care if my old records are warped and scratchy–like the dude at the music store who sold us the turntable said, “If you want to hear perfection, you’re probably going to download it or buy a CD. If you want to experience all those records you loved…”
So that’s what I’m doing, and honoring Bruce because 2016 is the year the words in his memoir reminded me of everything I love about creativity and honesty and why I need those in my life. I am full of joy because of all the songwriters, poets, and authors and their words and ideas–and all the musicians who gave some of them a soundtrack. Happy old years, happy new year!
Ugh, this year, the last week…the death of Leonard Cohen, whose songs I’ve had the privilege of teaching as poetry (and Kate McKinnon’s SNL opening was everything, by the way).
Now another loss that sent me to the closet where my silent albums live.
Lucky enough to have seen him at Farm Aid V, and lucky enough to have friends who could afford all his albums when I was a financially struggling youngster. Besides his solo success, Leon Russell recorded and performed with damn near everyone in his long career. Songwriter, session musician, superstar. This is for Debbie and all the nights we listened to Will O’ the Wisp, for that character Douglas and what he owes to Leon Russell, among many, and for Riley, just because I miss him so much.
A few years ago, Lynne and I were digging something out of her large walk-in closet at her Green Acres house (she’s in a different home now, and about to move again, but that’s a good story for another day), and she pointed out her fringed, suede vest hanging in the corner, a leftover relic from our hippie high school days. I felt a pang of envy that she still had it and wondered aloud what might have happened to my fringed jacket from that same era. I thought I had a photo of Lynne’s vest, but I can’t find it, though I did one time put a high school photo of me in my fringed jacket on my blog, right after I discovered that it STILL existed. My sister had held on to it through the years and taunted that it would remain forever in her possession.
Debby has just moved to Houston–she found a bunch of buttons in her former basement that she brought to me, and the one above was among them. What she did not bring was my fringed jacket. It had been inadvertently left in a closet of clothes she was donating.
I felt a moment of regret, then I let it go. After all, up until three years ago, I thought the jacket was long gone from my life. It would never fit me now, and anyway, though the jacket would be a tangible connection to people and times that are gone but still loved, it’s all alive in my mind, right?
Then–as Debby was unpacking–look what she discovered!
And I’m sixteen again. Lynne will pick me up in her tiny white three-speed Opel, and we’ll go to my sister’s house that is never warm enough to hang out with Debby’s friends and probably Riley will come over and maybe My First Boyfriend and there’ll be cards and frozen baby Reeses Cups and breaking the law, breaking the law, as hippies did.
I still have my memories AND my jacket. Thanks, Debby!
There’s something about reading in summer that’s fun in a unique way. Maybe it’s a holdover from childhood’s summer reading challenges or the memory of visits from the bookmobile that I looked forward to way more than the ice cream truck.
There was a time in our twenties when Lynne, her sister Liz, and I were always ready to join a close group of friends and family in costuming ourselves for parties and home movies. One of those friends especially close to Lynne and Liz was Kathy C. She had the greatest sense of fun and approached every day with zest. I wish I had a photo of her in her Kermit the Frog disco costume. Since I don’t, here’s one from a Halloween party at Lynne’s.
Lynne shared the news with me today that Kathy died–way too young–in late February. I know she’ll be deeply missed by her family and friends. I will always see her, forever young, leading her high school band across the field as their drum major.
Her energy and spirit are in every smile, every peal of laughter.