Tuesday, May 30, 2017

Time Was

My friend Gary gave me a video of the popular singing group, Il Divo, for my birthday. The fact that not only do they sing well, but two of them are achingly beautiful didn’t hurt. I was enjoying both the music and the…uh, scenery…when they launched into an Italian rendition of a song known here as “Unchained Melody,” and suddenly I was not sitting in an apartment in Chicago, watching a video, but sitting at a booth in a small bar near the beach in Pensacola, Florida, eating pizza and talking with my NavCad friend Harry Harrison and I realize the frustration of stroke victims aware of everything around them but unable to say or do anything.

I’m really there, 54 years ago and I want so badly to let myself and Harry know that I’m there, but I can’t.

While I can, and often do, conjure up vivid memories of the past, the most powerful of these journeys are those in which I am whiplashed through time without warning. All it takes is an out-of-nowhere thought, a totally unexpected memory, a song, a sound, a photo, and I am back with friends and lovers and family long gone.

I’m home from college, sitting on the couch in my parents’ home on School Street in Rockford, Illinois, next to my dad, who reaches out and places his hand on my knee, giving it a sharp squeeze which evokes a yelp from me and a rebuke that “that hurts!” And I do not realize until years later that this was his way of showing that he loved me. I’d give anything to be sitting on that sofa right now, next to my dad. And this time, I would not complain.
The sound of a passing single-engine airplane overhead will transport me instantly into the cockpit of an SNJ navy trainer, soaring over the top of a gigantic whipped-cream cumulus cloud and into a beautiful, clear valley surrounded by other clouds, looking down at the green patchwork of fields and roads and rivers far below, and I experience the same indescribable joy and wonder.

Some of these travels back in time I make fairly frequently, but some, like the following, pop up totally unannounced after years and years. Norm and I are returning to Chicago from my parents’ cottage in my new red 1963 Ford Sprint convertible. The top is down, and Norm is sitting in the passenger’s seat, studiously rummaging through a large bag of potato chips, as if he’s looking for something. Apparently finding it, he smiles and pulls out one large, perfect potato chip, and hands it to me.

I’m with my mother, visiting New York City sometime in the early 1960s. We are at the top of the Empire State Building, and I am being cruised by a very nice looking guy. My mother for some reason seemed to be my magnet for attracting handsome gay men, for I was never cruised more heavily, more frequently, or because of the circumstances of being with Mom and therefore unable to do anything about it, more frustratingly.

I often refer, when looking at beautiful men, for example, to my chest hurting. And it does! It’s a combination of intense feelings of longing, too often mixed with the sorrow of the awareness of loss—that something once was and is no more, and can never be again.
This blog is from Dorien's ebook of blogs, Short Circuits, available from UntreedReads.com and Amazon.com; it's also available as an audio book from Amazon/Audible.com. You can find information about Dorien's books at his web site:  www.doriengrey.com: 

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