Thursday, August 18, 2005
BECAUSE we used to have this boat in Minnesota, a Century Arabian, with maroon and gold seats that had a cassette player that played 8-track tapes. And we had three (3) 8-track tapes that summer we retrieved from my cousin’s house: The Rolling Stones “Emotional Rescue,” Pure Prairie League ( I am proud to say I have no idea what the name of the album was), and a Fleetwood Mac cassette with Stevie Nicks singing “Landslide.”
So what we would do is, Moira, Lissy and I would play “Landslide” over and over and over and over and over again. Lying on the soft cushiony padded layers of the Century Arabian, out on the bay, we felt compelled for reasons that are still mysterious, to play “Landslide.” It thusly became this sort of anthemic memory of when we lay between our youth and our inevitability.
It was a loaded time in that my father died that summer—July 27th 1980. I was 17 and very numb and mean. My mother and I were in a post-death limbo and so we did the only thing we knew to do and repaired to our beloved Brideshead. Relatives shifted schedules and opened doors and we found ourselves, through Aunt Frances’s kindness, at Bayside, a soaring knotty pine paneled house on the bay.
My mother and I were occupying separate realms of grief—she sat at the card table beneath a Tiffany lamp in the living room and wrote responses to all the sympathy cards. I sat on the dock and read Lady Chatterley’s Lover with my highlighter.
Then Moira and Lissy came and we ate about fourteen tons of Rondele cheese and Double Stuff Oreos. Lissy lay on the tennis court, slathered herself with Hawaiian Tropic, and said, "I am going to have a SAVAGE TAN!"
We drank Heileman’s Special Export—which was a nod to my father in its own way because he always drank the local beer wherever he was and read the local paper. No matter what. Because he was a journalist first and he believed in adapting to indigenous climes, which is also why he made a great Foreign Service Officer.
Before Moira and Lissy got there, I was a petulant bitch (I know this comes as a shock). I mean, I was already a bitch just by virtue of being a fucked up teenager, but my father’s premature death emboldened my attitude to a toxic level.
My cousin Aubrey saved me that summer by coming to my princess bedroom in Bayside, where I lay on my bed listening to Bruce Springsteen croon “New York City Serenade” over and over and over again on a small cassette player. He lay at the foot of the bed, on his stomach, and he said, “You know what? If you keep acting like this, no one is going to care about you.”
When he left, the only lyrics that jumped out at me were, Sandy, the fireworks are hailing over little Eden tonight/forcing a light into all those stony faces/left stranded on this warm July. I felt like I had been spoken to and was being spoken to—that the fireworks were the revelation to me, in my own Little Eden, and that someone had forced a light into my stony face, after I’d been stranded on a warm July. It was an epiphany.
And I never looked back. Because what I realized was, I had been experiencing a manufactured depression and attitude and when something happened that was genuinely depressing, I needed to overcome it, not nurture it. If for nothing else than to honor my father.
So that’s why I cry sometimes when I hear “Landslide.” |
Cynicism is another word for reality