The Year of Exploration is here.
On Being a Late Bloomer is here.
My speech at Vermont College (moments, memories, meaning) is here.
We don't have a picture of us in the sixties. We met when our mutual friend, Jimmy Murphy, who lived down the street from me and drove me to school in his family's Corvair, asked me one morning at pick-up, "Can we go by and get my friend Jim?" and I said sure.
Turns out, Jimmy and Jim worked together (if you could call it that) at Biff Burger in Charleston, South Carolina. My Air Force dad had been transferred to Charleston in 1968. He spent two years mostly flying C-141s into and out of Vietnam while my mother held together a family of three kids and a dog and teenager-hood in the late sixties.
As Jim loped out of his house, trombone case under one arm, spiral notebook spilling papers out of the other, I knew my life was about to change. You can't define it that way at the time -- it's a feeling you understand only later, looking back. I got out of the passenger seat and crawled into the cramped back seat, not because I was a girl and that's what girls did, but because Jim was 6'6" tall and I knew he wouldn't fit in the back.
I don't know where the trombone went. Maybe there wasn't a trombone.
"Hi," was all I managed. "Hi," he said back. He had gigantic lips (good for kissing, it turned out). He smiled with his whole face, hiding nothing, including how amazing he thought I was, this creature who occupied the front seat of his friend Jimmy's car.
And that was the beginning. Things went very fast. I was a good girl. He was a Billy Graham good boy. But we were very good explorers, and we became inseparable, and such good friends, too. He was a good listener. I was a good talker. For the first time in my life, I had someone to really listen to me, to intently listen, looking me straight in the face, paying attention. It was heady stuff!
The music in his life became the music in mine, as I sat at football games in the bleachers in freezing November, watching the sousaphone player at halftime marching in the St. Andrews High School Marching Band. He loved band, he loved the piano (his strength, still today), he loved jazz, and he loved rock and roll.
My dad was transferred to the Philippines in 1970, and through a series of events too long to go into here, Jim and I lost touch for a few decades. When we reunited in our late forties, he still looked at me with that grin and those lips and those eyes so intent on my face, listening. I was so far gone before we even got started again. "I can't believe you never got married," I said, "that you never had kids..."
And do you know what he said? "I waited for you." Well. Here I am, me and my decades of living, my four children all grown now, who have been folded into Jim's heart, too, a heart that has room for anything Debbie loves. It's downright inspiring.
I am pouty, where he lets go. I am critical, where he is understanding. I am self-centered, where he is selfless. I could go on. Perhaps I have him on a pedestal. Perhaps he puts me there, too. Maybe that's as it should be.
We are two artists trying to make our way in a world that is not sympathetic to artistic temperaments and making a living. We manage just fine. We like being together and say that's what counts. We both like simple, silly adventures. He makes me laugh. He likes my faces. He likes my snoring. "I can't sleep until I hear you snore." He will go with me to France one day -- a dream I had even when I knew him in high school.
Is it all good? We both find brown sugar cinnamon frosted Pop Tarts hard to resist. There. Something not so good? Nah. It's all good.
Today is our 8th wedding anniversary. We'll spend it getting ready to leave on our trip that begins in tomorrow's wee hours.
This jazzy-rock brass-infused song was number 50 on the Billboard Top 100 for 1969. I'm listening to a lot of late sixties music in preparation for writing Book 3 of the sixties trilogy. I'm looking for anchor songs for scrapbooks, and for story inspiration. This song reminds me so much of that amazingly innocent and yet powerful Charleston time we had together in 1969. Here's to you, Sweet Jim, to the 14 years we've spent together again. I hope we get 14 more.
The Spiral Starecase
More Today Than Yesterday
I don't remember what day it was.
I didn't notice what time it was.
All I know is that I fell in love with you.
And if all my dreams come true,
I'll be spending time with you!
Every day's a new day in love with you.
With each day brings a new way of loving you --
Every time I kiss your lips my mind starts to wander...
I love you more today than yesterday
But not as much as tomorrow!