“There are places I'll remember
All my life though some have changed
Some forever not for better
Some have gone and some remain
All these places have their moments
With lovers and friends I still can recall
Some are dead and some are living
In my life I've loved them all.”
-the Beatles, In My Life
Every now and then, life gives you a little treat. The tastiest of treats, like a slice of grandma’s coffee cake with a thick layer of crumbs on top. It’s the kind of treat that you want to savor and instead of eating it on the run as you do most things, you set it on a plate, put on a pot of tea, sit yourself down at the table and fall head first into the moment like Alice falling down the rabbit hole.
I was having one of those days. The kind of day we all have every once in a while even though we’d rather not. The kind of day when going back to bed and starting over again seems like a fine idea if it wasn’t 2:36 in the afternoon. The kind of day when you feel like grabbing the container of chocolate fudge swirl ice cream and eating the whole thing yourself while sitting on the floor in the kitchen. It was one of those kind of days.
Since it was 2:36 and there was no chocolate fudge swirl in the freezer, I did the next best thing. I sat down at the computer to read 37days, a wonderful blog written by Patti Digh, a diversity consultant in the North Carolina area. And that’s where I found the crumb cake.
It was a simple thing. A clip of video. Joan Armatrading singing “Love and Affection”, a song I first heard when I was a senior at Boston College living in an apartment on Beacon Street (which my Dad affectionately called “BeaST” because he thought he was being clever ). My roommate Missy would put on Joan Armatrading after a long day of classes and we’d make dinners of stir frys or ratatouille or anything we could find out of the Moosewood Cookbook. And we’d sing along with Joan.
I’d take the trolley into downtown Boston to my job at Faneuil Hall. To pay my rent, I got a job working at a lobster stand in Quincy Market called The Great American Lobster. It was a fun job with a great side benefit. I got lobster for really cheap and even as starving college students, we hosted quite a few dinner parties where steamed lobster was on the menu. Hey, it was a tough job but somebody had to do it.
Missy had a huge Irish family. There were eight of them in all and they lived in an amazing old house with a huge wooden staircase that cascaded down into a large foyer of magnificent old hardwood floors. I loved going to visit them. The Shrivers were warm and nurturing and welcomed me with open arms. They became my surrogate family during those years and I loved them for that.
I closed my eyes as I listened to Joan sing, her voice booming from the small speakers on my computer, allowing the memories of that time to fill my soul the way the surf fills the moat that you dug around your sand castle, washing over the beach and filling it to the brim.
Such a simple thing. A song, stumbled upon. A journey down a rabbit hole of memories. A bright spot just when I needed it.
And reason enough to stay away from the chocolate fudge swirl. At least for today.