Friday, February 22, 2013
A Trip Home
In November of last year, I got an email through Clasmates.com from a guy I graduated with. I have not been in touch with any of my classmates, had not seen many of them since we graduated almost 50 years ago, but he was informing me that there is a monthly class breakfast in a restaurant just outside my home town. I was glad to hear from him (he was one of those popular boys that all the girls had a crush on) and i thanked him for the information and filled it away, thinking it would be a nice thing to do.......someday. My email adores was added to the list, and I had been getting monthly updates. Then after Fasnacht Day (Fat Tuesday) I got an email from the classmate who originally organized the breakfasts, talking about Fasnachts and reminding everyone of the next class breakfast. Again, I thought it would be a nice thing to do, and if I wanted to do it I really should before going back to work. I put the date on my calendar as a 'maybe,' knowing full well that the day would come and there would be a good possibility that I would talk myself out of going. Yesterday was the day, and even though I told my regular walk partner that I could not meet that day, I woke up and wondered why I wanted to go. After all, I did not have much in common with these people back in school, I traveled in different circles and hung with different kids. I gave myself a good talking to.......the weather was perfect and I go back to work next week........the conditions were ideal for the trip. I forced myself in the shower, butterflies in my stomach and headed out. I got to the restaurant and told the waitress I was there for the class breakfast. She directed me to the banquet room where there was already several people there, I recognized no one. Taking a deep breath, I walked up to a woman and said, "Hi, I'm Linda Williamson." The name felt strange on my lips, I had not used it for well over 40 years. She gave me a hug and a name I did not recognize....we were a rather large class by the standards of the day, and unless we were close alphabetically or took the same courses, I didn't know all of my classmates. A man came up, greeting me.......his name was one I knew. I walked around, introducing myself and hugging these strangers.....some I remembered, and some I could even look in their faces and see the teenagers they once were. We found seats, I sat between two women I didn't remember, but found out that we now had common interests. The woman to my right loves the theater and musicals, the one to my left was actually on the same bus trip I had been on back in May. Some remembered I had a sister, one remembered going to Girl Scout meetings at my home. One of the guys reminded me that he and I were voted the noisiest boy and nosiest girl in our class; I got an email from him last night telling me how wonderful it was to see me. There was actually only one person that I recognized, and that was the one who originally contacted me..........and I only knew him because we are Facebook friends and i had seen a recent picture of him. We were at a large U shaped table configuration, and just like in school.....the girls at one side and the boys at the other. I had met most of the girls, and was asking about the guys..........ah, I had such a crush on that one and needed to go say hello. And that one was a distant cousin, had to share a hug and greet him also. I could not help but think back to the girl I used to be, and while never a quiet girl, I was always a bit shy with those I didn't know. I was always one to sit on the sidelines, wishing I had the nerve to do things. That girl is no more. If I needed any more convincing that she was gone, it was yesterday as it as I sat among my teenage peers full of confidence and self-assurance. How easy it would have been to talk myself out of going or to just sit there and wait for everyone to come to me, then condemn them when they didn't and chalk it all up to a bad idea. It is a fact: one needs to get out of ones comfort zone and put oneself out there to grow and stretch ones limits. I know it has been said before, and with much more style than I have said it, but the fact is still the fact. I would have missed a wonderful time with great people had I not forced those butterflies down and stepped into the unknown. New adventures are always a bit scary, but you just never know what lies beyond.
Sunday, July 29, 2012
Tonight I saw a live production of TOMMY, the rock opera by The Who. I was never really into
The Who, but still familiar with some of their work, and i remember the videos, especially Elton John as the Pinball Wizard. A few months ago, a friend said she intended to see the show in Ephrata, at the Performing Arts Center, did I want to join her. Sure, why not? An evening with friends, dinner at Applebee's........sounds like a good time. I had been to the Center last year, I had won a ticket for their 2011 season, and they were doing CHICAGO, a favorite of mine, Tommy sounded like fun. I had never seen the movie, but found a copy on ebay or Amazon, not sure which one, and watched it one day while on the treadmil. One wonders just what was going on in the minds of these artists when they wrote the music and the entire opera.........the entire concept seemed to be thought up while under the influence of more powerful drugs than I ever did in my youth! The film was a trip, and Roger Daltry certainly did a fantastic job of portraying that 'deaf, dumb, and blind kid.' I was excited to see it live. The theater has seating on 3 sides of the stage area, and our seats were in the center section, front row. We all kept tucking our feet in, fearful of tripping the performers as the stage is flat. There were 2 young boys that played Tommy as a child, and they were both fantastic, no expressions as the ensemble sang and danced around them,. I found myself feeling sorry for this young lad, traumatized as a child, molested by an Uncle, poked and prodded by doctors, teased and abused by his peers. I sat in my seat, mesmerized by the performance as the actors transported me to London in the '40's, and into the '60's when Tommy became free. I could relate. I've been through some rough patches, I imagine we all have, and many days I feel like I am also free. I didn't have the traumatic childhood Tommy had, but I guess we have all been in some sort of invisible prison at some point . I feel fortunate to have cast off my chains just as Tommy did. And I didn't need a Pinball machine. Bottom line........it was a great show. I love live theater. Can't really afford Broadway, but regularly attend local theaters when scheduling permits.
Saturday, July 21, 2012
I went kayaking for the first time this morning. ......I have a friend who loves the outdoors, is more comfortable in the woods than in a mall. She first introduced me to hiking a few years ago, and today she introduced me to kayaking. I always have a great adventure when with her, today was no different. We met, crafts loaded on her car, and traveled on to Memorial Lake, out near Indiantown Gap. I had never been to Memorial Lake, and was unprepared for the vastness or it. It was a cloudy, rainy day, but the weatherman kept saying the rain would end, and it did just as we arrived. We (she) unloaded the kayaks, and she had me sit in one to adjust the foot stops. At this point, I became a little unsure of things, while she kept convincing me that I would be fine. The water was calm, the day cool and cloudy, I guess a perfect introduction to the sport. It didn't take much to learn to maneuver the little craft, just basic rowing strokes and some common sense. My friend kept looking for turtles, I was happy seeing all the waterfowl; ducks, geese , even herons. One duck swam within 3 feet of me as I just sat there, still in the water. There were other crafts in the water, a pedalboat, some motor boats, other kayaks, even a kayak for two, plus there were fishermen, people with dogs on the shore as well as a family picnicking, feeding popcorn to a lone duck that ventured close . A flock of geese flew overhead, honking as they went. It was peaceful and serene on the lake, I think I could have sat there and napped, chin resting on my chest, but the scenery was spectacular. Even with the clouds, the trees were mirrored on the lake, and when we had made a full circle, I saw canoes in assorted colors lining the shore and reflecting in the water. We were on the lake close to 3 hours. I would have loved more, but my arms were starting to ache, and I had other plans later in the day. Getting out of the kayak was not the easiest thing I have ever done, and we giggled like a pair of schoolgirls.........I felt like Chevy Chase in 'Christmas Vacation' when the ladder flipped and he just did NOT know which way to go, but eventually we were both on dry land, and I helped her load the kayaks on her car. It was a wonderful experience, relaxing yet a nice workout, and I am looking forward to the next time I'm invited.
Wednesday, July 18, 2012
One of the perks of m job is my ID.....it gives me admission to the park for free. Admission includes the shows at the Amphitheater, and y'all know how I love music! Sunday was Dennis DeYoung form Styx, and what a show it was! He did all Styx songs, including Mr. Roboto, Come Sail Away, Babe, Lorelei, Blue Collar Man, Grand Illusion............the band was fabulous, and the Amp is such an intimate theater. Small, bleacher seating, the stage is only about 3 feet away from the first seats. I've always loved shows there because it IS such a small, intimate place. At 65, Dennis still has a fabulous voice, a unique voice. His lead guitarists came out looking like rock stars. They dressed in black designer jeans and boots, long hair, one in a white shirt and the other in black. They didn't just PLAY the guitars, they performed. Dennis in crisp white slacks, white sneakers, a black and white shirt and sunglasses. As he sang, my mind drifted to times and places gone by, events in my life, memories triggered by these songs. Memories of good times and bad, memories of loves and loves lost. I blinked away a few tears and forced myself back to the present as Dennis traveled across the stage, occasionally lifting his sunglasses to reveal blue eyes. I sat between friends, just acquaintances really, people I had met through attending the shows, people brought together by the love of music. They all know I work in the park, and look for me to enter the theater after my shift, and we chat while waiting for the show to begin. The crowd started getting restless about 4, it was time for him to begin, and a roar broke out as he walked onto the stage from the wings. Several songs had the audience standing, and I will admit that my little group was usually the first ones on their feet. He had some 'audience participation,' something I always love in a show. There were CD's and Tees for sale, I bought a CD, a live one with a Symphony Orchestra, containing the music of Styx as well as some classical numbers. i got home after the show and popped the first disc in my player, reliving the show as I downloaded the pictures into my computer and onto Facebook.
I love the shows at the Amp. The artists are not HUGE names, many of them were big when I was a teen, and it's great to see seniors making music, the music of THEIR youth as well as mine, the songs that made them huge names many years ago. They can still sing, still play.......they may not be as nimble and spry as they were 50 years ago, but who knows what Nickleback or Dave Mathews will be doing in 50 years. Perhaps they will be playing in the Amp and the teens of today will swarm the place, feeling the same thrill we do as we watch and listen to the rock stars of our youth. They will watch the bands, and in their hearts they will be teens once again.
Monday, May 14, 2012
When I saw that Steve Chapin was playing in the Amphitheater, I asked my boss if I could leave work early to attend the show. 'Back in the day,' I was a big-time fan of his brother Harry (1942-1981) and would always get misty when something triggered a memory of the talented musician that was taken from us much too soon. Harry was special. To call him a musician is like calling Picasso a painter...........Harry was so much more than just putting works to music. He told stories with his songs, most of them based on true facts and many of them were 'self-portraits.' He took a story about a cleaner who tried to make the big time into 'Mr. Tanner.' and an article about a young truck driver who was killed became, '20,000 Pounds of Bananas.' 'Cat's in the Cradle' was written by his wife about him. He never really made it big, but he had a following, and toured with his brothers and his band,, leaving fond memories behind whenever he played. He was very charismatic, and always got the audience involved in his shows, making each one of us (even those in the 'cheap seats') feel special.
I arrived at the Amp about 35 minutes before show time, and it was nearly empty, only about 2 dozen seats taken. I saw some acquaintances, people I had met at previous shows, and greeted them, joining them in small talk until the band came out. They were selling some CD's and tees.........I had an original tee from when Harry and the band played in Hershey in 1980, banana on the front with the words, 'Harry, it s...s!' on the front and HARRY CHAPIN ON TOUR on the back. They had some new ones in white, with the word 'sucks' spelled out, and I wondered how many people would know the meaning.
Steve came out, longer hair than he wore those many years ago, and sitting at a keyboard rather than a piano. He led into the opening strains of WOLD, taking artistic license with the lyrics to make reference to being back in Hershey PA and I realized the guitarist with the wild hair was John
Wallace, who did backup and some solo vocals with Harry; the drummer was also from Harry's band. Of course I knew all the lyrics, and I was my usual animated self as I sang along with the band. I thought to myself that with John there, they just HAD to do 'Mr. Tanner,' and I was not disappointed. I could have wept hearing this sad story once again about a cleaner who loved to sing and was pressured to make a play for the big time......and flopped. I was on my feet, giving John the standing ovation he deserved. As the band played 'Taxi,' I was back in 1980, waiting in line to purchase a tee and poetry book and turned to see another fan hand Harry a $20 for his purchase and repeating that line, 'Harry, keep the change.' I even felt Harry's kiss as he handed me my change those many years ago.
All to soon, the show was over, Steve introduced the band, Big John Wallace, Howard Fields on drums, John's son and his own son on guitar. Again on my feet applauding, and the band came out again to do 'Circle,' my personal favorite. Steve got the audience involved, but not like Harry did, there WAS nobody like Harry. He would have been 70 this year, probably still doing what he loved best, making music and fighting to end world hunger. I imagine Steve and John are also getting up there in years, but on stage they were like before, the younger versions of themselves, just as I was a younger version of myself as I sat in the bleachers, listening, singing along, and remembering.
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