… like flash cards to practice your multiple times table … moments that flash when we walk into a room, re-read our favorite book or poem, see an old film, or hear that favorite song.
For me it has always been the sound of music … a haunting melody, a song or series of songs that take me to another time and place.
One such memory starts with the harmony of The Four Lads, with the big guy playing the guitar, and me dancing on my father’s feet … the cold flat on 39th Street. The time we had nothing but each other and didn’t know we were poor … the last age of innocence … the fifties.
“January to December, we’ll have moments to remember.”
Until Boomers became teenagers, adolescence meant “growing” into carbon copies of our parents, mimicking their tastes in clothing, food, entertainment and most of all … music.
So much attention to the time of our life that is the shortest yet in our memory, last the longest. Far into adulthood, past middle age and well on our way to senior discounts at the movies, we carry her saunter with us down supermarket aisles. We remember leaning on the hood of a car, laughing in groups of two’s and three’s, as the female hunts in numbers.
I remember bobby socks, penny loafers, full, swishy skirts and tight sweaters … neckerchiefs and long ponytails, deliberately letting our skirts swing to the sensual rhythm of our gate, like wild cats on the prowl, the mating call of the teenage girl.
With the click of a button I’m back in the school auditorium, riding the bus to the Friday night basketball games or the weekly dances at the local high schools, back to the excitement of our music. Not our aunt or uncle or mom or dad’s music … but exclusively ours …
When Long Tall Sally was … everything that Uncle John needs …
Not only in New York or the Motor City, not just Newark or Los Angeles, Chicago, Portland or Oneonta … but all over the country … crazed teenagers like us found a new voice … Rock ‘n Roll …
I want you to know that if you ever leave me, I don’t want anybody else …
you know you wanna make me SHOUT !!!
Somewhere between high school, marriage and children, the sixties exploded with Vietnam, Civil Rights, government upheaval, corruption … the death of Camelot.
I fell in love again … this time with the new “rock” … The Beatles, The Rolling Stones, The Dead and the poor boy down on the corner … Woodstock … peace signs and love-ins and Jimmy Hendrix playing the National Anthem.
We married and birthed babes, we split, became the confounded, decomposed families of a new modern age and I became a single parent.
Yesterday … all my troubles seemed so far away …
Somewhere in the seventies I became enchanted with Judy Blue Eyes. And no matter when or how many hundreds of times I hear her version of this Beatles’ song, I know it defines all those that came before and … the nameless one I will always love more.
In My Life, Judy Collins
There are places I remember all my life, though some have changed, some forever not for better. Some are gone and some remain. For these places have their meaning, with lovers and things I still can recall. Some are dead and some are living, in my life I’ve loved them all.
But all these friends and lovers there’s no one can compare with you. All these memories lose their meaning when I think of love as something new. Though I know I’ll never lose affection, for people and things that went before. I know I’ll often stop and think about them. In my life I love you more.
A memory that my children took with them was the sound of one album … my most overplayed and worn album … the one I have replaced six times and resent that certain tracks are missing from the CD version … the songs both children grew to hate and I still love Rumors, Fleetwood Mac …
… and the song I have instructed them to play at my funeral because I was and will always happily be … Second Hand News … so please I implore … won’t you lay me down in the tall grass and let me do my stuff …
After the seventies, Generation X’ers took over the airwaves with a depressing girl from Ireland who saved her head, The Cure, Depeshe Mode, and The Police. I discovered MTV and more crazed teenagers took over my life.
But hey, that’s another story.
What triggers your memories. What if anything
Defines you … your writing.
Who do you think you were then?