Tuesday, December 8, 2009

Another Day of Infamy

Ohhhhhh YES that post title is overstated. But there'll be Beatles fans who believe it, so let's leave it up, eh.

I was fourteen years old and a brand new Beatlemaniac when, in 1980, John Lennon was murdered at the Dakota. I look at that date, and intellectually understand it to have been TWENTY-NINE years since this moment - my own "where were you when" first formative mass-cultural moment ... my own Kennedy Assassination - but emotionally, it is almost harder to separate myself from the girl I was at fourteen than it is to stand (way) back from what I was at twenty, or even thirty.

The experiences you have at a certain age are so immediate, and so ... pure, really ... they never adulterate, throughout your life. And some losses, the losses of people whose creativity burrows deep (I remember Douglas Adams' stunning demise also), stay with you in the same kind of inviolable memory-space as sacred time itself. Some events never pall, never abandon you, even if the shock goes away, the memory of it remains clear.

I was friends with a girl named Laurie (I figure her identity is at a safe remove, near three decades later and surname omitted), and she and I were little acolytes of a science teacher at our middle school. She had introduced me to the Beatles, and he was The Cool Teacher (in a way which, years later, has not become creepy and gross). He called us each "Odd Child" and we both dug that happily, and the three of us suffered the loss my mom had told me about as I got ready for school, and even my beloved TEO isn't as closely associated with the loss as Laurie and Mr. B.

That friend, and that teacher, I haven't seen in all these years. The Beatles never left us, though. And John, who seemed so spiritually venerable ... was a younger man at his death than, now, I have finally become. Not much younger. But I can look at "forty" and feel sorrow at such youth. I can look at Paul and allow myself to accept, too. John Lennon twittering or being the rarefied thing (even more than "a Beatle" already was back then) isn't an image I wish to conjure, if it meant wishing him back.

I remember the substitute teacher in English, who brought all the most impressive technology of the time to bear in showing us, over two days (or even three ... ?) his prized FILM of the concert at Shea Stadium. I'll never forget the green, low-ceilinged room where we watched that, even if I knew I would never find nor recognize the way to get to it again, though the school still stands. I'll never forget *sharing*, in the way a fourteen-year-old girl can, and identifying with the ghosts of long-aged-themselves fourteen year old girls (... by this writing, nearing sixty ...), and entering into their spectatorship, and loving that teacher I never remember seeing again. I remember (still own) the FIFTEEN YEAR anniversary tee shirt my brother gave me, of the Beatles. The only black concert tee I have ever owned - other than one of my own ex husband's band (BEx my dear, you're in honorable company ...).

I remember my own fourteen-ness, truthfully, more than I remember John Lennon. But his existence, and his music, made this part of me possible. Made other parts of me germinate, too - a certain off-brand creativity. A certain desire to be ... "unlike" ...

Requiescat in pace.

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