Yesterday, December 7th, was the 79th anniversary of the Japanese attack on Pearl Harbor. It used to be more present in our minds, command more attention. But a lot of time has gone by. I remember in high school a surprise quiz was called a Jap quiz. Can't say that anymore.
Today is the 40th anniversary of the killing of John Lennon outside the Dakota in New York City. He was only 40 years old. It's hard to believe that the amount of time elapsed between John Lennon's death and today is the same time span as his entire life -- and is actually longer than the time between Pearl Harbor and Lennon's death -- not the advent of The Beatles, but the end of The Beatles.
As I'm writing this, I'm listening to a recording on Youtube of The Beatles' rooftop concert, with "Get Back and "Don't Let me Down." This was the last appearance of The Beatles, in 1969, over half a century ago. Now George Harrison is also dead (of cancer at age 58 on November 29, 2001, my son's 16th birthday.)
Paul McCartney, age 78, has five kids and is on his third wife (but fourth partner counting Jane Aster his girlfriend and muse for the crucial years of 1963 - 68.) and he still tours and performs, sometimes with 80-year-old Ringo Starr who also tours as Ringo Starr and His All Star Band.
What's your favorite Beatles song?
I find myself in a reflective mood these days, so I'm thinking of She's Leaving Home or Across the Universe. I eventually get sad when my wife is away and I'm living all alone. I think too much about the past. About growing up in my New York suburb, going to high school and college. then going to work in New York City before eventually taking a job with a magazine back in the suburbs.
I have mixed feelings about it all. Who among us didn't have a first love in high school that subsequently crashed to the ground? Who among us graduated from college with the record and the confidence to change the world? Who can't have mixed feelings about a career that was largely satisfying, reasonably well-paid, but also contained its share of defeats and downright humiliations?
So I'm finding find myself wallowing in nostalgia, which is what too often happens when I am alone, with nothing else to focus the mind.
I think about my two kids, growing up in the 1990s, and all the fulfilling moments, and how great it all was. But then I realize: it's all over! And everything since then, since the early 2000s, seems to have gone by so fast.
The problem seems worse on weekends when all other activities shut down. No Zoom meetings with my senior learning center. No contact with the students I'm tutoring. There isn't even a stock market to watch, to pass the small bits of time, and the weather channel seems to repeat about every 15 minutes.
I did finish reading Louise Penny's latest book All the Devils Are Here, which brings Inspector Gamache and his family to Paris for a case about corporate greed and intrigue. It's a good page turner, although I thought the ending flew off the handle a little bit.
I've also been watching Dawson's Creek, which I had never seen before. My son told me a while back that it is much better than The OC -- more real, more genuine, more gritty with its seting in Cape Cod not Southern California. The show debuted in 1998, when my daughter was in 10th grade and my son in 7th grade, in those last innocent days before cellphones, before the internet took over our lives.
Those Dawson Creek episodes reflect high-school life in the 1990s, but could for all intents and purposes echo high-school life from the 1960s. The teenage romance, the parents getting divorced, a death in the family, rebellion against arbitrary school authority. Maybe these are themes still relevant to coming-of-age stories. But for me it all seems nostalgic, and gets me thinking about my own past during all those hours when I'm alone, with no on to talk to, not much to do.
B and I have been trying to Zoom together almost every night. We catch up on what the grandkids are doing. She's been spending afternoons playing with a three-year-old, and occasionally babysitting for a 22-month old. B is relishing the role of grandmother-in-residence, but she's already getting tired. "I've only been here a week," she told me last night, "and I'm feeling like I've stayed long enough, that it's getting to be time to head home." She paused. "What made me think it was a good idea to come here for a month?!?"
Meanwhile, she sent me an email with a link to a local outfit that delivers Christmas trees. But I've decided I don't want a tree. I already have greenery and the lights on the mantel, and the outdoors lights over the garage. That's enough. I'm afraid a tree would emphasize how alone I am at Christmas, and remind me of all the Christmases past, with the kids, the costumes, the groaning dining room tables.
I did talk with my daughter by Facebook. My granddaughter at 10 months is now officially crawling. She would power crawl from one end of the living room to the other to get her hands on my daughter's iPhone. I suggested putting the phone around a corner. Could she locate a phone if it was out-of-sight?
The answer is: no. She lost interest when she couldn't see it. I guess that's a skill they learn later in life. When I told B about this later, she suggested my granddaughter had to play more hide-and-seek to develop the skill of retaining an image of something when it's not there any longer.
Which is kind of what nostalgia is, isn't it?