Listening to music now is really weird. My husband never liked music, had no frame of reference for songs of his youth...yet you could give him a baseball player’s name and he would, in Vinny’s voice, provide you with the commentary of a particular Dodger’s game that particular player excelled in. We truly were like Mars and Venus interest-wise. They say opposites attract and the longer I sit here alone in bed each night listening to music the more sure I become it is true.
Since the age of ten when I received my first transistor radio my life is, like many of yours, always associated with the music from our pasts. I grew up like many boomers in the late 50’s and 60’s. I can almost relate each freckle on my ghostly white body to some great Do-Wop or Motown group. I babysat more sunburns and blisters on my poor little body than I ever got paid for.
These were the years of “The Purple People Eater” and “ Itsy-Bitsy Yellow Polka-Dot Bikini”. Truly scandalous songs...at least for a couple of years until teenagers discovered Elvis, Frankie, and Bobby...I won’t explain who they are, if you don’t know, rest assured they are the Justin whathisnames of my time.
Saturday would have been my husband’s and my 27th wedding anniversary. Exactly a year ago we were on the beach in Hawaii laughing and marveling at the sting rays attracted to the lights on the point, having eaten a wonderful Hawaiian plate lunch earlier, and later by the evening were listening to a band give a concert on the beach...one that we could hear for “free” from our oceanside balcony.
This year I went to our local park to “celebrate” the tearing down of Libby Bowl. Libby Bowl, was designed by renown architects Austen Pierpont and Roy Wilson in 1957. Originally called the Festival Bowl, it was renamed Libby Bowl during the 70’s. It was built at a cost of $12,000. To replace it (and add dressing rooms etc.) this small town raised $3,000,000. That is remarkable during these recessionary times, but it gave the town's citizens something positive to set their sites on and they/we achieved the goal.
Libby Bowl photo by BuffyW
So on Saturday afternoon I headed downtown about 5 pm for the festivities now named, “The Last Gasp at the Bowl Party”. There was to be an auction of painted benches by our local artists, food and drinks donated by local merchants and the Ventura Jazz Band would be playing. They also held a contest where you wrote an essay explaining why you should be the first one to wield the hammer, in effect beginning the teardown. The winner actually hit a light pole instead, something about insurance, but it was symbolic really.
I had company with me, a wonderful, kind and caring man I’ve grown to be quite fond of. I forewarned him about Saturday’s meaning to me being our wedding anniversary, the first since Lance’s passing. I really had no idea how I would be feeling. (He was very considerate when it had dawned on me what the day represented, long after initially invited him to go to the party with me.)
The day had been perfect, he busied me during the day with errands he needed to run so that I had little time to dwell on memories of my past. We strolled through the park hand in hand. I felt very fortunate to be so well taken care of emotionally. I introduced him to friends we encountered including Salon’s own Serenity Says, as well as some of my neighbors and local business owners. How odd it seemed to be walking side-by-side with a man now, not behind him as I pushed his wheelchair. In fact, the idea of being with a man who is so physical and healthy is quite an adjustment. It is amazing how different my life is now, both physically and emotionally.
We admired the artists’ benches up for auction marveling that our own favorite was also the favorite of the other. Eventually we sat down in the bleachers and listened to the music. People got up and began to dance, young, old, experienced and novices. It was quite the festive atmosphere. I sang along with "A-Train" and so many other songs I am familiar with. Then it happened...the one song that Lance and I had identified with during our entire marriage was now being played. Just before I realized it was “our song” I started singing along. The sound of it resonated deep within me when just as suddenly I stopped singing and began to laugh. I was laughing because the memory of how it came to be “our song” was precious.
Lance and I had gone to Europe on our honeymoon, Switzerland, Italy, France and Monaco. Each hotel lounge we had a drink would have either a piano player or piped in music and we noticed without fail we would hear, “New York, New York” being sung or played. Neither of us being from NY we would just look at each other and bust out laughing. It seemed so absurd to be having a cocktail in some off the beaten path in a bar a continent away and always hear that song. And so it was every time through the years whenever we would hear it played those memories of our honeymoon made us laugh.
I explained my connection to the song to my date and he slipped his arm around me in a comforting, loving gesture. I have a new life now, and I’m sure we will find “our own song” in the not too distant future, but first I owe a big thank you to this man for helping me look forward and not dwell on the past. Thank you for being you. And oh, the confetti didn't hurt either!