Flashback! The year, 1960.or ’61. The sound, jazz. The feel, beatnik wanna be. The setting, a dingy nightclub under railroad tracks in run down industrial city.
It was the T Club. I had one or two friends who I could easily convince to come along with me. In order to get there, I had to get my Mother’s car. That required some white lies, which I could easily justify to myself. If I had told Mom the truth, she’d never would say yes. She probably would think I’d lost my mind.
It was a summer thing. About once a week. Head up a very long and dark flight of stairs to the closed-door at the top of the stairs. Enter the dark and smoky T Club. Take a seat at a small table near the stage. Order cocktail(s). No id’s required. Smoke ciggies. Feel very devil-may-care. Look around to see if my current crush might be there. Rarely, but one could hope. Zone out to the sound of jazz. Look cool. Feel cool. We didn’t call ourselves beatniks, but we were under the influence for sure. Continue reading “The T Club Flashback”→
What is it that attracts us to a place? Does it remain the same through life?
Last year, after a long hiatus, my husband and I decided to vacation in Key West. We used to come here for a yearly getaway while living in college and then when newly married. In the 1950’s it seemed more remote than it does today, traffic and development have increased with few benefits that I can see. It could be easy to fall into the “you should have seen it 50 years ago syndrome,” but my memory is not keen enough to have a clear image of what it all used to look like. All that I really recalled clearly was the lure of the oceans surrounding the keys. Depending on where you live and your life experiences, Key West probably means different things to you than it does to me.
If from the West Coast, probably nothing.
If from the East or Mid-West:
T shirt shoppes, bad art galleries and thousands of cruise passengers looking for Paradise on Duval Street?
If of a certain age:
Lily Pulitzer? Sloppy Joes?
Ernest Hemingway/Tennessee Williams/literary history (It’s almost an obsession here. Stay away from his house if you’re allergic to cats.)
If still in college:
Gorgeous sunsets? water, water? blue, aquamarine, turquoise. JImmy Buffett
roosters? Roosters and chickens can appear anywhere at any time. It adds to the Bahamian feel of the place. Sometimes they frighten me if they all of a sudden crow loudly when I don’t see them in nearby bushes. I imagine them snickering at me from their hiding spots when they see me jump in fear.
I had a few hazy memories of Key West in the early ’60’s, nothing that matches the current reality. No matter. Many of the things I’m drawn to are intact. This trip, I was blown away by the numbers of historic buildings here. Stuff rarely got torn town so that most everything that survived the fire of the late 1880’s is still remaining. Thanks to the lgbt community, the once dilapidated remains have largely been restored and probably never looked better. Key West now has the largest number of wooden historic houses of any town or city in the USA.
It was was dark outside. All I could see were small clusters of lights as our plane came in to land, but I knew the unseen rural New England landscape well. In years past this landing meant I was coming home from college or in later years for a visit with my ageing parents, my young children by my side. Feelings now, as then, were a mixture of anticipation and melancholy. The melancholy was from the recognition that time was closing in on the remaining time left between me and my parents. Those disturbing feelings are a visitor that accompanies advancing age, deepening recognition that the clock is ticking and adding a bittersweet quality to events that were once never given much thought.
The empty airport concourse signalled immediately that no one would be there any longer for my homecoming. It had been decades ago, but happy images of my mother and father waiting for me remained alive, however impossible. The Christmas decorations on display looked a little cheesier to me than they had in my youth. Mounds of dirty snow were the only remainders of last week’s early snowstorm. The cold air seemed colder than I’d remembered. The winter coat I’d brought with me in defense of the cold warmed me, but felt heavy and oppressive.
I’d come to visit a dear relative who is being treated for a grave illness. I was relieved to finally visit, but apprehensive too. Continue reading “Going Home!?”→
The photographs of my life huddle together in the darkness, secure in a bedroom cabinet. They now lead quiet lives, disturbed only occasionally. They once brought only pleasure to me and upon inspection, wonder. Now going through them brings a quotient of sadness too. The scale began to tip about 10 or 15 years ago. Their nearby presence exerts an energy that often tempts me to pay them a visit, but one that I usually resist. It’s a bottomless journey, that once begun leads down a road that’s too nostalgic. It invariably leads to sad emotions that I’d prefer to not indulge. It does show a rich lifetime of family times, travel, holidays and joyful events. The photos allow me to visit people who were once an important part of my life, now no longer available for one reason or another or sometimes for no reason I can state. They just faded away.
Were my eyebrows really once that full and dark? Gazing at a photo of myself holding my infant children in my arms, I can still feel my daughter’s softness and inhale her sweet baby scent. Those sacred pleasures vanished too quickly. Pangs of times passed too quickly and unconsciously. Another photo yields a glance of smiling faces at a school graduation. That was long ago, when there were more beginnings and a door closed meant that another door would soon be opening.
Yesterday, I uncovered a long-lost photo of my mother in her 20’s with a man other than my father. She and her gentleman friend looked very happy. I remembered her telling me many years ago that this man was her boyfriend before she met my father. They were close to engagement. And then they weren’t. The road not taken, but still present in my stash of snapshots. Does the gentleman still have a photo of my mom that his children puzzle over?
There are so many photos! My short-term attempts at organization have always run out of steam. I can never throw out enough of them to even make a small dent in their number. Now they lay, slightly deteriorating by the day, in boxes, albums, and stacks. They give testament to a life and youth gone by. They recall young children, departed relatives, exciting trips to Europe and Japan, important birthdays, a long-lost pet. I want to bring them to life, if only for a brief visit.
I almost gasp when looking at photos of a long-ago party at my house, celebrating the visit of Doug Elkins Dance Company in 1998. Everyone was sooo young and so drunk.
I found a photo of my mother with her arms around two of my daughters, probably taken 40 years ago. They all looked relaxed and happy. This photo brought me joy because my mother hated to have her picture taken, consequently, I have few photos of her where she seems happy and looks the way I want to remember her. She died of Alzheimer’s so my last memories of her are painful to recall. This photo helped me make her real and healthy again. The image is now on my desk and in my heart.
Thousands of digital photos sit right under my fingertips at my computer’s keyboard. They’re so easily accessible, and visited more frequently. They’re available for immediate recall and better organized. I imagine that my grandchildren will have no boxes of photos to store.
Once again there came the time to put these memory capsules back in their cupboard. After writing about them this time, I lovingly put them away, and even managed to feel happy.