As a teenager, Endless Love was my romantic anthem. I hit rewind on my cassette player over and over again as I sung along. If I was John Cusack in Say Anything, this would have been the song coming out of my boombox.
There’s only you in my life
The only thing that’s right
Unlike Jay who had hundreds of cassettes when we met mostly of Phish concerts, I was a little less cool with only a handful of songs that I knew by heart and most of them were some variation of the Endless Love theme. I had one bad haircut or perm after another and my friends could flirt way better than me so it took a big imagination to visualize finding my endless love.
Last fall our daughter was in 7th grade and it was our busy Bat/Bar Mitvah season. These rocking parties with the fun photo booths with crazy props were bringing us onto the dance floor where many songs were played and although none were my romantic anthems from the 80’s, we danced our hearts out to whatever the DJ played with our friends.
Jay was a great dancer and I tried to follow. I always felt kind of awkward but who cared because the music was loud and the spot lights on the dance floor were bright and Mazel Tov was in the air. I told Jay I was falling in love with him all over again at these parties. I know that may sound cheesy but I am a hopeless romantic so I was always looking for ways to fall more in love since love songs from the 80's was the station I was tuned into even if his neon strobe lights made me dizzzy.
Last night I went to a Bar Mitzvah party and I wanted to find myself on the dance floor again because I do believe in to life, to life l'chaim; but I was feeling off beat. It reminds me of the same off beat feeling Junebug felt when she went back to school after the night of her loud and sudden loss. The fluorescent lights were so bright and the kids were talking too loud when Junebug walked back into her first grade classroom.
She tried to find her beat again in all of the wrong places. The playground at recess and the cafeteria at lunch and in the hallways when she moved from class to class. In friendships that moved from childhood to adolescence to adulthood or were just temporary stops along the way. In the Wild Turkey she found in her parents liquor cabinets and in her refrigerator when no one was watching.
I lived in big cities and in the mountains of Colorado searching for it in my 20's. I jumped from beat to beat as a mountain top photographer, waitress, working retail, being a PR assistant (to name a few of many) but I never could find my groove and would move on quickly. I came back to Nashville to look more and it seemed I was getting closer when I walked down the aisle but then I found myself circling back to look for it on the playgrounds and hallways of school as a mom. I felt like I was getting warmer on the dance floor last fall. I had tremoudous faith in the beat of Jay and others but I did not trust my own, even though looking back I see I had many reasons to believe in that little girl with a string tied to a stick.
I realize now how wise and brave Junebug was when she could find the courage to sit alone and fish in the alley in the sewer behind her house. While it may have looked odd to a world that praises busy and normal and popular, her world was turned upside down and she was listening to find her own beat again. As I write and she fishes for hope, I trust that we are in the right spot for finding our beat. Even if it's a little cheesy.
Endless Love by Lionel Richie w Diana Ross. Bar Mitzvah photo.