Coming Back to Me

The year is 1968.  I’m late for a date, hurrying down a long line of people waiting outside the civic center.  This is the teenage virgin ice princess Georgia, searching all these faces for the one belonging to my escort.  He’s older than I am, a college boy who holds out the promise of initiation into mysterious secrets of adulthood.

The people in the crowd are between 16 and 25 years old.  They wear broadly flared jeans with brilliantly colored patches, woven headbands holding back their long hair, peasant dresses, beaded necklaces, feather earrings and bells. I wear a canary yellow mini dress, high-heeled sandals, pink toe nails, and giant gold hoop earrings bobbing out from my long hair.

As I scan the faces, seeking the familiar eyes and smile of my young man, I’m met with glances of unsettling hunger.  Although I don’t fully understand the desire in the eyes of these men, I read it as one of the mysterious secrets of adulthood.

An arm reaches out, grabs me around my waist and pulls me into the line.  It’s Don, who’s with friends.  They’re smoking joints, getting primed to listen to Jefferson Airplane.  I decline when marijuana is handed my way.

Inside the concert hall, Gracie Slick’s voice reverberates in my head, the bass guitar throbs with the pulsing of my heart, the drum beat drives up through the floor and sets my hips swiveling.  I’ve never heard White Rabbit before tonightSmoke wafts my way from the flickering joints of my companions.

Then the tone of the concert changes with Paul Kastner’s haunting performance of Coming Back to Me, the most melancholy love song I’ll ever hear.

Music and drugs create a contact high that loosens me, makes me settle back into the comfort of Don’s waiting arms.

After the concert, back in his apartment, with tender care he begins melting the outer layers surrounding the virgin ice princess.

The year is 2012.  I’m late for a date, hurrying down a long line of people waiting outside a theater.  This is the vixen divorcee Georgia, searching all these faces for the one belonging to my escort.  He’s younger than I am and holds out the promise of helping me rediscover the sensual spirit of the woman I once was.

As I hurry down this line of strangers, I am startled by how strongly the feelings of 1968 come back to me, like the flashback after an acid trip.

The people in the crowd are the same ones who waited to hear Jefferson Airplane, just older now, between 55 and 65.  These old hippies wear shapeless faded jeans, t-shirts hanging over their bellies and sweaters against the chill in the night air.  I wear snug black jeans, a lightweight silk sweater tucked into my waistband and a short suede jacket to protect against the cold.

As I scan the faces, I see hunger in the glances of some of the men.  This hunger isn’t as sharp as it was in 1968, it’s not in as many of their eyes and it’s tinged with sadness and disappointment.  Still, it’s hunger.

The moment he sees me, Ben smiles, wraps his arm around my waist, pulls me to him, kisses me and says, “Glad to see you.”

We’re waiting to see Hot Tuna, with bassist Jack Casady and guitarist Jorma Kaukomen.  Both of these men were part of Jefferson Airplane.  Both of them were on that stage back in 1968.

I’m so unsettled, amused and confounded by this confluence of circumstances, I begin babbling.  Ben laughs at me.  The woman in front of us turns around and says, “Yep, I was at that Airplane concert, too.  Bet we all were.  Still the same, aren’t we, just our jeans are a little bigger.”

My judgment has frayed with this barrage on my senses, so I respond with, “Mine aren’t.”  Ben thinks this is funny and pulls me closer.  The woman wrinkles her nose at me and turns back to her husband.

No drugs, no Gracie Slick, no drums in the theater this time.  Just three men (Jack and Jorma were joined by Barry Mitterhoff ) playing guitars, mandolins and banjos.  Jorma has grown stout while Jack is thin and frail.  At first, their playing is sloppy and out of synch.

Then they warm up to weave intricate rhythmic webs that extend under, over and around each other.  The music wraps me in a sensuous haze.  I settle back into the warmth of Ben’s arms.

After the concert, back at his house, Ben gently begins reawaking the spirit of the woman I once was.  I feel her coming back to me.

9 thoughts on “Coming Back to Me

  1. Those fantacies in my mind are as powerful as they were 40 years ago…I wonder why I don’t try to act on them as much? (I don’t want to hear an answer to that question.)

  2. Thanks for this post, Georgia. A flood of memories came back to me too as I read it. Way back when, I dated Steve who turned me on to JA’s album Surrrealistic Pillow, which he played over and over. Now it makes me want to go out and buy the CD.. Wait…I may already own it but have not listened to it in years. Now I will.

  3. I don’t think we change all that much, aside from the cosmetic superficialities. I have several Hot Tuna tshirts I wear regularly – current product, not threadbare vintage items. Even so, the soundtrack for the kind of initiation to which you refer was more Stax/Memphis or Muscle Shoals for me, and I was just shy of 16 years old. I have found myself more than able to connect with my sense of who I was back in the day. My difficulty is in connecting the dots to link up all the persons I have been between then and now.

    • Hi Robert: I’d never heard of Muscle Shoals, even though I’m familiar with the music. This is what I found on you tube: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=NXY2NmrLuiw. Thanks for expanding my horizons.

      I wish I could dive back into the skin of me at 16, 26, 36, 46, 56 and remember how it felt to be that woman. Maybe you’re right, it wouldn’t feel all that much different.

      • I think sometimes of the layers of me that existed at 16, 21, 35 and so forth. I’ve had so many distinct chapters that I sometimes think I’m an onion, subject to being peeled and revealing all those quirks – and scars – I acquired or earned. I KNOW I can still connect at times to those persons I was. Sometimes it’s warming, other times not. I claim it all.

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