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Musical Memories

Why is it that we respond to music with such emotion?  I don’t know why.  I’m just asking.  My memory seems to be triggered by certain music and certain songs.  I’ll be sitting watching a movie or a show and a song comes on and memories come flooding back.  It also happens just with song titles.  I read a book recently, that was filled with references to songs from the writer’s high school years and it made the story and the writing so much better for me.  It helped me identify with it. 

Certain songs remind me of specific times in my life, not all of them positive, yet the memories come rushing in and bringing with them the same emotions I felt during specific times.  I’ve even had to pull over off the road to compose myself or to wipe away enough tears to be able to see the road.  Music is that powerful.

I won’t go into specific songs that trigger memories for me because that’s not what this is about.  I’m just musing about it. 

How about you?  Does your memory respond to certain music?  Positive memories?  Happy memories?  Sad ones?

Reunion Round Up

I’ve attended four high school reunions and one college reunion. After the third high school reunion, I said I would never attend another. I said the same after the one college reunion. This year, my high school had a multi-year reunion and my college is having a class reunion for my year (1978). I definitely have no desire to go to the college reunion, even if they paid me to go. However, when it came to the high school reunion, although I had pretty much decided not to go, I kept getting more and more curious as the event got closer and closer. Then, my daughter who moved from Baltimore to Santa Rosa after college graduation last month, called and reminded me that I had some of her furniture at my house and she could use if the next time I went to California. That clinched it. I decided to go to the reunion and take my daughter her furniture. A friend even helped out with the cost by inviting me to stay at her house for the weekend. That was a bonus and a “sign” that I was meant to go.

I must say that the best way to approach any kind of reunion is with no expectations whatsoever. Then you are sure not to be let down. The reunion was more than I expected, not only because I had such low expectations, but because it was quite good. I think that the best part was being in a room full of people with a common background and who shared the school’s history. Because it was a multi-class reunion (1969 to 1979) most of us knew a lot of people there, either personally or through siblings.

So, the company was good, (with the exception of a few who proved to still be who they were in high school with no growth whatsoever). The food was delicious. The music was, for the most part, excellent, but way too loud for a small enclosed room (and for many deaf and nearly deaf ears). The camaraderie was there. It couldn’t be missed. It sure made the evening the success it was.

Will I go to another? I don’t know. I guess it depends on where I am in my life at that point. Maybe I’ll go back to the no more reunions attitude.

I’m still processing the weekend. There are many stories to be written from the events and characters to be created. I supposed you’ll read about all that here if you keep coming back. Not sure when it will be but it’s coming.

Once upon a time, in a high school far, far away, in a geometry class, sat a young lady in the last seat of the first row.  In front of her sat a young man.  The two had taken a fancy to each other.  You could tell by the way they looked at one another and by the way they lingered before and after the class began.

The young man had taken to passing things to the young lady, notes and such, by reaching back with his arm and handing her things under the desk.  After a while, he got daring and began to pass things by reaching back over his shoulder.  The young lady didn’t really feel comfortable with that because the teacher might see and because it would cause a distraction but it was nice to have a little extra attention from this young man.  So when he passed things to her, she accepted them without discouraging him.

One day, while the teacher was at the front of the class demonstrating how to find the area of some geometric shape or the other, the young man whispered that he needed to borrow an eraser.  The young lady only had the one on her pencil so she passed that to him.  He used it but then didn’t pass it back and she needed it so she could continue taking notes and following along with the teacher’s demonstration.  She tapped him on the shoulder and quietly asked for it back.  While passing it back, the young man grabbed onto her hand and wouldn’t  let go.  She managed to take her hand back and a couple of minutes later, he asked to borrow her eraser again.  She passed it to him and this time, when he passed it pack, he wouldn’t let go of her hand.  The teacher had been glancing over from time to time, not saying anything, knowing that both were good students and whatever was going on would stop.  However, it was while the young man was holding on to her hand that the teacher chose to look their way and call on the young man.  The young lady quickly pulled her hand back so the teacher wouldn’t see and as she did that, the pencil, which had been partly in both their hands, broke in half! “Is there a problem back there?” asked the teacher.  “No. No problem at all,” answered the young man.  The teacher continued with the day’s lesson up at the front of the room while quiet giggles rippled from the back of the first and second rows.

Now there was a problem.  The young lady had only the eraser half of the pencil and needed the lead half to keep writing her notes.  The young man, somewhat embarrassed, though refusing to admit it, said “It’s okay.  I’ll fix it.”  “How will you fix it,” asked the young lady “it’s broken!”  The young man proceeded to whisper to the others around him, asking if anyone had tape.  He found someone with a roll of tape in their binder (you know the type that is always prepared for anything and probably got a 110% on every test they ever took) and borrowed the tape.  As the young man proceeded to carefully and comically (for he had now drawn the attention of at least a half a dozen classmates in the surrounding seats) tape the pencil back together, failing several times yet not giving up, the teacher’s attention was once again upon the back of the first row.  “Young  man, do you care to share with us the answer to the problem?” he inquired.  The young man cleared his throat and said, “No.”  “No?” asked the teacher.  “I mean I don’t know the answer because I’m sort of busy back here.  You see, I’m performing surgery on this pencil.”  The class cracked up and not even the teacher could keep a straight face.  “Okay then.  You finish up as quickly as you can.  We wouldn’t want to interrupt such delicate surgery,” said the teacher, who was actually a pretty cool guy.  There were more chuckles from the other students.

The teacher went back to the lesson.  The young man quickly finished his surgery and handed the still fractured-but-carefully-bandaged-pencil back to the young lady who, although not happy to have a broken pencil, was happy to have the attention from the teacher come to an end.  She knew though, that the attention from the young man, although over for the class period, wouldn’t be over for a while.  And the young man was happy to have had the whole incident end with humor and even a little bit of envy from the other students!

Going Home

At the end of the week, I’ll be going back to my hometown to attend a high school reunion.  It’s not just for my graduating class but for everyone that graduated in the 70′s.  I’m glad to be going but the closer it gets, the more memories flood back across my mind and they aren’t all good memories.

I haven’t lived there since 1974 when I graduated from high school and went off to college but it’s still home.  It’s where I was born and where I grew up.  It’s where my family was once all together and happy.  It’s where I went to school; where I first learned to love school and writing; where I learned to drive and had my first kiss and my first job.

It’s also where my brother is buried and where there are fragments of our broken family.  It’s where, every time I leave the area, my heart aches to be leaving.  It’s home.

This week will fly by and before I know it, I will be there and just as quickly, the weekend will be over and I will be headed back to where I now live.  I’ll have other memories to add to the ones I now have and I’m sure they won’t all be positive ones but they’ll be my memories and part of going home.

Crazy

This is a piece of fiction from a prompt I found while looking for things to write about on my blog.  It’s from The One Minute Writer and the prompt reads: “Everyone said he was crazy. He never acted crazy around me until this one day I will never forget.”  Here’s my stab at it.  I hope you enjoy it.

Everyone said he was crazy. He never acted crazy around me until this one day I will never forget.

Well, it was actually one night, not one day.  It was January and the rainy weather of the past nine days had finally stopped so I rushed out to the grocery store to replenish my fridge.  I don’t like to go out in the rain and this time, it had come a day ahead of time.  I had planned my grocery trip carefully so I would have a full pantry and fridge when the rains came, but it started raining ahead of schedule, without consulting me.  So when it started, I was almost out of groceries and now, nine days later, I couldn’t put it off.  Mr. Weather Man had said there would be no more rain for the rest of the evening and throughout the night.  That’s all I needed to hear.  I grabbed my grocery list off of the fridge, shoved my feet into my black loafers, and pulled the zipper up on my all weather coat as I locked the door behind me.  Just as I got in the car, I realized that it was much too cold for that coat.  I really needed my warm jacket but even though the car thermometer told me it was a biting 31°, I chose not to waste time by going back in.  I checked my back up camera and pulled out of my driveway slowly, knowing the pavement was icy.

An hour later, as I drove past his house on the way back home from the grocery store, I noticed a traffic jam and the flashing red lights of emergency vehicles up ahead.  Just what I needed!  It had begun to sprinkle as I had loaded my groceries into the trunk and by the time I had walked the shopping cart across the darkened parking lot and back to the store, the sprinkles had become bona fide raindrops—big, fat, heavy, and cold raindrops.  I knew I had to hurry home before the rain turned to snow because at that temperature, it would definitely stick and one thing I hate more than driving in the rain is driving in the snow.  It has been so since the first time I had to drive in the snow when I had been stuck in the stuff with no help, no cell signal, no other traffic, and nothing to keep me warm except the thermal hoodie I was wearing.  Yes, I had been totally unprepared for the snow and as a result of that near tragic day, I now hated snow!

Just as the snowflakes began to gently fall, the traffic ahead of me came to a complete stand still and I realized that I could possibly be here for an hour, which meant the snow would begin to accumulate and the drive home would be impossible.  In all honesty, the drive home was only about another mile from where she was stuck in the accident induced traffic jam but that last mile would be a white knuckle drive for her and she dreaded it more than she dreaded the thought of having starved to death if she had not taken the promised opportunity of dry weather and made the run for groceries.  That, of course, reminded her never to listen to Mr. Weather Man again.  She would have to find someone else with more accurate weather forecasting abilities.

Horns began to sound off around her and she rolled her eyes at the futility of it all.  Didn’t those idiots realize that the traffic would not move until it was ready to move regardless of how much they banged their horn or how many obscenities they shouted?  People could be so stupid.  The traffic began to inch forward very slowly and she noticed that the other drivers around her seemed to be laughing and more than one of them had their iPhones out taking pictures of something.  She knew people could be crude and gruesome.  There were so many stories of people taking pictures and videos of accident scenes and bloody bodies.  The internet was full of them.  She felt like opening her window and yelling at them to quit being such jerks.  They should put themselves in the place of the ones whose pictures they were taking.  How would they like it if pictures of them in their most desperate and tragic moments showed up online?

Just as she put her window down to yell at the man in the car next to her who had actually gotten out of his dark blue Mustang to take pictures of the scene up ahead, she heard people laughing.  She looked ahead of her and saw Him.  That’s what everyone was laughing at.  Him.  She couldn’t believe it.    She had heard stories about his crazy antics but she hadn’t really believed half of them, assuming people were embellishing but here it was, evidence of His craziness, right before her eyes.  She shook her head and smiled as she considered the possibility of taking out her own smartphone to capture the scene.

There, up ahead, just feet from her now, was Peter.  She had seen him before and had known that he dressed unconventionally but she never expected to see him standing in the middle of the street, on top of a car, in nothing but his boxer shorts.  Not in 29° and snowing weather on a January night.  And she hadn’t thought she would ever see him in neon green boxer shorts decorated with electric pink flamingos.  But, just to prove that one never knew what another was capable of, there stood Peter in his outrageous boxer shorts and nothing more.  However, to say that he “stood” there was not exactly right.  He was directing traffic…as he danced…wildly…and drank who knows what from an oversized Oscar the Grouch mug.  And he was singing, too.  She could hear his off key rendition of The Beatles’ Here Comes the Sun.  She slowly reached for her phone and began to capture Peter’s attempt at helping local law enforcement to clear the traffic jam.  Heck, he wasn’t attempting it, he was accomplishing it.  Traffic was moving.  As soon as drivers got Crazy Peter’s picture, they moved on, shaking their heads and laughing, some of them waving at him and others giving him a thumbs up.

She had seen it all.  Yup, Peter was crazy alright.  She had seen it herself and as soon as she got home she would upload the video to You Tube.  She couldn’t wait to get home and she didn’t even mind the snow on the road as she smiled all the way home.

Twenty Minutes

Twenty minutes is such a short time, yet it can be a long time or “just enough” time, depending on what, and why and where, and all that stuff.

How about when it comes to sleeping?  It doesn’t seem like twenty minutes can be enough, however, I find that a twenty minute nap is what gets me through the day.  I somehow am not able to sleep for more than three hours at a time.  At least that’s what has been happening the past three or four years.  Even when I am dead tired, I can’t sleep any more than that.  Therefore, to make it through the day, I end up needing to nap, at least once, during the day.  That nap seems to be precisely twenty minutes.  Even if I set my clock for a forty-five minute nap, after twenty minutes of sleeping, I’m wide awake.

I guess it’s a sign of my age?  Is that what happens when we get older?  I remember years ago, when I was first married.  My ex had a good friend that was about ten years older than he was so I guess he was in his late thirties.  A few times, we had him and his wife and their little boy over for dinner.  We were used to eating later than earlier but when Conrad and family came over to eat, it had to be earlier because he went to bed early.  He would tell us about how he had to be in bed by about 9:30 or he would just drop and then, in the morning, he was up way before dawn because he couldn’t sleep more than a few hours.  He used to spend time reading a lot while the rest of his family was sleeping.  He read the classics and also contemporary bestsellers.  My ex used to make fun of him and say that it was because he was so old that he needed so little sleep.  I guess my ex will think the same of me now.  I’ve gotten old and so I can’t sleep. Ah…..but I would have to remind him that he’s five years older than I am so ha ha!

Oh well, I guess I should run off and get my twenty minutes!

No, he was not the best father.  But he was my father.  I have just as many good memories of him as I have bad ones.  The bad memories are probably stronger because the emotions are fresher and very powerful.  But there were good times, too.

He became a father with no role model to follow as his father was not in the picture, ever except to impregnate his mother.   As soon as he could work he became the provider for his mother.  He was six years old at the time.  By the time he was in his early teen years, he was sent over the border to Texas to earn American dollars to send to his mother, and by then there were siblings, too.  Not only did he have to leave his family behind, he also had to leave his name behind, his very person.  Instead, he used the legal documents of a dead cousin that had been near his age.  So he became someone else, yet he remained the provider.  When he married and started his own family, he still provided for his mother AND for his children.  He worked long, hard hours to support us.  We didn’t have everything we wanted but there was always enough food on the table, a roof over our heads, and clothes on our backs.  And in the three months of the year when he did not work seven days a week, he was the loving and playful father that took us places and did things with us.  Those were the good days. Those are the days to remember.  Those are the days he was a young, loving, productive father.

Then came the bad days.  Unable to work and provide for us, he turned to the prescription pain medicine and the booze.  Basically, he became lost.  He was no longer that loving father to any of us.  He was no longer the husband that he had been.  He was no longer the man he had been for most of his life.  He felt it.  It destroyed him.  He became angry and violent and hatefull, and even hate filled.

That’s who a lot of people remember.  And they are right to.  I will not take that from them.

But there were other parts to him, before he was used up and spit out by the company that he worked for.  And even after that, there were glimmers of the father that I remember from my childhood, the loving one.

So I understand the mixed feelings.  I just don’t understand the ones that choose to forget the good parts.  I don’t understand the stone throwing.

Just as in all people, and in all stories, there was good and bad.

Who will I remember?  I think I will choose to remember the loving father.  I won’t forget the hate filled one who became so empty, for there are lessons to be learned from that person, too.  But for now, in these final days, I will remember the father who pushed us on the swings and taught us how to ride a bicycle, running alongside us and holding us up.  I’ll remember how he taught me to dance as I stood on his feet letting him lead me around the room in his strong and loving arms.  That was all a long time ago but for now, those are the memories that I will allow myself.

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