Tuesday, July 15, 2014

The King .. Thank you, thank you very much

 My memories seem to usually be more about summer than other seasons mostly because it is my birthday during that time and it is so much my favorite time of year.  

I associate summer with the usual things beach, vacations, beach, long days, beach, songs and dancing at beach clubs, beach... you get the picture.  The other memory I have of this time of year is of Elvis.  One of my first and, still now looking at pictures, forever crushes. 

It was my 2nd year in the States and my parents were able to actually take a vacation too.  They had previously used their limited funds, they came to the States before me, to get settled and mostly to get me out of Romania ( don't care what else you think of him big shout out to Pres Ford whose visit to Romania led to my getting to be with my parents).  Their budget was limited so off to Florida we went - in August.  Did you all just shudder - the heat, the humidity, the fact that all those displaced East Coasters go back to their Northeast areas from their Florida homes ... yeah we were headed for it.  Did I care or even think of that ??? NOPE.  I was happy to be with my parents after being kept apart from them for so long.  I was happy I was 10.  It was the summer of long, lazy days playing outside on my street until they came home from work so this was great.  

We packed ourselves into the family car .. a silver with burgundy top Buick LeSabre.  The thing was as big as some yachts.  Now I have teased my mother that the parents of people of my generation, growing up in the 70s and 80s, tried to kill us but that is what makes us stronger.  They drove in those cars without seat-belts, infant car seat was her lap in the front, with cigarettes in closed windows,  my parents bought the car in part for the feature that I could lean between the 2 bucket seats (you know which would propel me through windshield in case of accident), no sunscreen and hours in sun.  My friends and I survived. Let's face it the front of that car was made better than styrofoam current models and was about a mile long - so chances that I would do more than slide slightly forward on the couch size back seat were unlikely.  I could lay down in the back and not have to scrunch my legs at 10.  The 8track my dad so proudly had played everything from Dean Martin, Ray Charles, Ray Coniff (think that was name), Englebert, Tom Jones, Bee Gees, and many other songs that were the sing along for this only child. He of course played Elvis.   

So here we were our first family vacation since we had been reunited, driving through Georgia and it's Welcome to Georgia rest area that gave out peach juice.  The car had A/C -- funny story when my parents first came to the States in 1973 they saw all these people driving with windows closed in the heat of summer .. they thought Americans were a bit odd - open the windows.  My parents of course ascribed to the fear of the draft - popular among Europeans which implies that sitting or being near a draft will cause anything from ear infections to Bell's Palsy (I kid you not) and no amount of science can trump the myth of the draft that persists for many to this day.  Still they were willing to look the killer draft in the eye if it meant driving in the heat with windows open.  Their first car was a convertible red Mustang -- killer gorgeous until it was stolen.  The 70s and New York - not so purty.  It was only when they found out about a/c in the cars that the closed windows made sense - and if it was new my dad had to have it. 

We woke up in Howard Johnson's - that was about as high up the hotel chain as my parents could afford and back then these were actually pretty nice.  They were clean, had a pool and who can forget the Howard Johnson ice cream sundae...in today's world that 10 year old me would have given it high rankings on TripAdvisor.  The TV was on and Elvis images kept popping up.  The room was painted a gold color with orange and brown breadspreads -- I did mention this was the 70s.  My father used the remote control, that would be me for you kiddies who do not know a time before remote controls.  He told me to get up and turn up the volume.  

They thought maybe it was his birthday before the sound came on but no it was the news that he had died.  He seemed pretty old to me then - am mortified at how young he was now.  My mother cried - so did my father.  I cried too - mostly cause my parents seemed so sad.  The world cried - even cold hearted USSR leaders sent regards .. this was big. 

Elvis - he in many ways is the American dream - poor to rich - struggling to success. To the cynics he is a warning of too much of everything that leaves you empty - to the optimists he is the hope that anyone can achieve.  Elvis is the music - the sex - raw emotions and those hip gyrations that a new generation needed to free them, to move them - to start them on what would come next. He is rock and roll - something the world thanks the US for giving them even now - well except those in the world who won't listen to music  - tells you everything you need to know about them, can't like or trust a person who won't listen to music for it is the beat of our hearts metaphorically and physically.    

Elvis - his voice still moves me, his lips still looks beautiful, he is always going to be part of my childhood and part of the adult that needs music to move, to hear my feelings, to be taken away, to be returned to a past, to help me cry and most of all to make me smile.  Though for years people kept thinking he was still alive, while they meant literally I agreed with them conceptually - he would never and has never died because of the impact he had - along with others who impacted the world through music, art, science, medicine, discoveries - he was made immortal. 

He is forever to me black leather clad Elvis, not fat Elvis, the dream and not the aftermath.  That moment when we as a family - newly arrived to the land that my parents had known partially through Elvis  - united in our sadness for the loss yet filled with longing for what else we could accomplish. That Elvis summer was also the time when my parents still had a marriage that they enjoyed.  My father and I had a tumultuous relationship - especially as I got older - but in music, and with Elvis, we always had the best of times.  

For that as we are moving toward the anniversary of his death I say "Elvis - Long Live the King - thank you, thank you very much"

Welcome to my world 
Won't you come on in ..... Elvis

Wise men say only fools rush in 
but I can't help falling in love with you .... Elvis

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