Well, tonight is finally the night, gang! I’m gonna get into my little white Honda Fit, drive the 15 miles of back roads into town to the summer stock theater that’s literally in an old red barn (well, it’s a newer old red barn designed to look like the original one from 50 years ago) to see 42nd Street!
Does this mean that the song Lullaby of Broadway will finally be out of my head? Your guess is as good as mine, gang, but the easy money is likely on “no.”
And yet… what I was listening to a lot, late last night, was Don Henley’s The Boys of Summer. I was in my 20s when his version of the song came out, and even then the song was considered “nostalgic.” Last night — obviously, 30 years later — it felt even more nostalgic.
Plus, the song makes me think of Tom Petty, since his bandmate, Mike Campbell, was one of the writers of the song. (Loyal readers of this lofty blog no doubt recall that Tom Petty was one of my girlhood heroes and he died last autumn from an accidental overdose of fentanyl and many other medications.)
Last night was a peculiar night. I’ve been noticing lately that I am developing more & more friendships with much younger people. Like, in their late teens and early twenties, while, at the same time, colleagues and friends my own age are dying, or developing various terminal illnesses, and having things like strokes and heart attacks.
I’m going to be 58 in 12 days. I’m in perfect health. Emotionally and spiritually, I feel older than 21, but in another sense, I don’t feel older at all.
Since Easter, I had been developing a really nice relationship with two young women, 19-year-old Mormon missionaries. They stopped in every week, sometimes twice a week, and we discussed the Book of Mormon, Joseph Smith’s life, faith, Christ, etc. These were wonderful discussions and I learned so much about Mormons, none of which I’d known before.
Next week, we were going to take a little day trip up to Kirtland to see the first temple that the Mormons built with Joseph Smith, back in 1836. We were all really excited.
Being missionaries, they really, really wanted me to join the faith, and while I think the Mormon faith is extremely positive and uplifting, more so than “regular” Christianity, I believe that chastity should be a choice, not something that’s enforced. Plus, most importantly, I have my own ministry to consider.
But that aside, we all got along so well and then yesterday, 30 minutes before they were due to come over for a visit, they texted me to say that they had both been transferred to another district, and it was effective immediately.
That happens with Mormon missionaries, but I was kind of devastated by the news. They said, “we want you to know you changed our lives so much.” And I told them they had done the same for me.
It’s so bittersweet, knowing that I have to watch them go off into the world, have their lives, find their own meanings, and that I’ll likely never see them again.
I tried to cheer myself by thinking about the show that I would be seeing tonight, and how excited I was to not only go to the theater, but to see this particular company that has so many wonderful young performers, including a couple of young men who have really moved me, and one who has really just stolen my heart.
But then it occurred to me that the summer season was half-over! And all these wonderful performers will soon be going back to college, or to New York City, to have their lives, find their meanings and their destinies, and chances are I won’t see them again, either.
I know that’s how it’s supposed to be with young, driven people. In fact, it concerns me that so many young people simply keep living at home nowadays, almost indefinitely. Where is the drive, where are the goals, the spirit? I know things are expensive, but I went to New York City practically flat broke, to be a singer, when I was 20 years old. Nothing on Earth could stop me. By the time I was 21, I was singing professionally in folk clubs in Greenwich Village. And so many people my age were in the city, pursuing their dreams, too.
So, obviously, I believe that young people with dreams should go off and do stuff — pursue their dreams; whether it’s on Broadway, or in a House of God.
But last night, it felt so keenly bittersweet. I’m really excited to see the show tonight but I know the show will be over in a heartbeat, and live theater never repeats itself. And then, in another heartbeat, the next show will happen, and then the next, and then the summer season will be over, and all those beautiful boys of summer — straight, gay, a little of both — with their beautiful voices, and amazing dancing, will be gone.
And autumn will come.
I have my own stuff I need to do –God knows –and I have to go back to New York City, and probably out to L.A. at least once. So it’s not like my own time stands still. But, wow, young people — their energy, their dreams, all the good things that are waiting up the road for them if they can stay focused — there is simply nothing like that. I am really going to miss all of them.