Whoa, so behind...
In the week or so since I last posted, a LOT has happened. So much I want to give each episode the writing it deserves, and not blow it out in one mega-post.
But first -- I got better. A call of desperation to one of the higher-ups in my Program netted me a trip on the Night Train (literally) from Poti to Tbilisi Sunday night/Monday morning. Two doctors, a bunch of tests, some bloodwork, another x-ray, some new meds, and three injections into my butt, and I am a new woman.
The extra bonus upshot was of course that I got to spend a week in beautiful Tbilisi. I fell in love with this city a little, enough so that I felt I might be cheating on my number-one all-time love of my life, Bella Roma.
I had a very full week, but tonight I just want to share with you something that happened my second-to-last-night. I went out for Indian food (fucking transcendent), then went to hear a bar band at an Irish pub, then retreated to another quiet cafe, sat outside, nursed a glass of sauvingon blanc, and wrote this.
Excerpt from my Journal, 7/22/11
I have surprisingly few true and clear memories of the first part of my life. For instance, I can barely remember the first house I lived in with my family -- on Benson Place in Westfield, New Jersey. I remember it being comfortable, and home. I remember that the carpet in my bedroom was bright red shag, and that my Dad had built a sandbox for me out in the backyard. (I also -- with crystal clarity that only comes with the instances of life-changing importance -- remember the first time I watched He-Man. I even remember what episode it was. But that is another story.)
When I was four and a half, my parents moved us -- our family of them, me, and my brand-new, two-week-old sister Eve -- from our house in Westfield to a new home and a new life in Springfield, Virginia. The new house was a wonder -- easily twice as big as our Westfield home. Not long after we moved in, I watched Pollyanna with my parents. As Haley Mills walked up to the giant foreboding mansion that was to be her new home, I looked with confidence at my father and said "Our house is bigger." That's how it felt to me.
The house was so big -- comparatively -- that we could not fill it, would not fill it for years. For a long time in my childhood memory, the large living room on the ground floor lay vacant, marked only by its truly remarkable "harvest gold" wall-to-wall carpeting, one couch, and an impressively giant stereo, the latter perhaps proving that my parents were in fact cooler in 1984/5 than my five-year-old self was willing to give them credit for.
It was in this naked room, on the massive stereo, that my parents would sometimes play rock n' roll. This was always a giant treat for us kids -- as of course I assumed always that they were playing it only for me. It never entered my brain that my Mom or Dad would play music purely because they liked it -- to a 6-year-old, parents are not allowed to enjoy things, or to have any fun at all as a matter of fact, beyond the sort of fun that is garnered at a roller-skating concert staged in the basement, tickets 25 cents, soundtrack Jem and the Holograms.
I was, in an 80's version of Hannah Montana, fatally into Jem and the Holograms. I was also a big fan of Barbie and the Rockers, to make matters worse. Even at age six, I should have goddam known better, but there you have it. My parents, as fully functioning adults, were no doubt driven to good-natured distraction by my poorly-informed choices, and were eager to embrace any opportunity to show me music that was not created by a toy company.
Mom and Dad played The Eagles, Fleetwood Mac, The Cars, and Billy Joel, the Pointer Sisters, and Gloria Estefan, to name a few. But for some reason, what I remember most clearly is when they played Dire Straits.
Eve -- aged two or so -- loved the Straits as much as I did. Her favorite song was "Walk of Life" ("Whoo-hoo!"). She'd go down on one knee and throw her arms out. It was adorable. And mine -- mine was "Money for Nothing" ("color TeeeVEEEEEE!"), followed very closely by "Sultans of Swing."
My sister and I would tear that empty living room UP, dancing with the enthusiasm that can only come from not knowing what embarrassment is yet. Even as I got older, and forgot Dire Straits, I always remembered the melodies and snatches of lyrics. It made it easy -- and wonderful -- to re-discover the songs later on. Hearing Dire Straits means fun, and innocence, and always -- always -- reminds me of my parents. When I hear these songs now, regardless of actual lyrical content, I think of family, and love. The ties that bind, and all that.
Tonight in Tbilisi, I stepped into an Irish-themed pub to enjoy a Jack n' Coke. There was a bar band doing their thing-- nothing uniquely special -- just a Georgian bar band in an Irish pub in Tbilisi.
When they hit the first chords of "Sultans of Swing," I thought I was hearing things. They played it through, and I sang along softly under my breath, not caring that I was alone at the bar mouthing words to myself. After their break, the band opened with "Walk of Life," and then closed out the night with "Money for Nothing."
It was One of Those Moments. Mom, Dad, Eve -- I wish you were there.
We are the Sultans.
"You get a shiver in the dark
It's raining in the park but meantime
South of the river you stop and you hold everything
A band is blowin' Dixie double four time
You feel all right when you hear the music ring"