My Partner just endured a back surgery last week that involved vertebrae fusions and Stenosis treatment. The aftermath of pain from this is probably unimaginable to most of us, who have been fortunate not to have suffered back issues. There is now enough titanium inside Jim to render him practically bionic. Any other metal would pick up FM radio stations. Having seen his previous X-rays, I would have given the diagnosis that Jim had swallowed an entire Erector Set, based upon the hardware that was placed there before. His subsequent surgery was apparently part medical and part architectural.
I had to fill several prescriptions at Walgreens for medications, and as I sat in the pleasant little waiting area, my anxieties over what Jim was undergoing gradually but temporarily subsided, as the only sound in the place was a recording of Mary Travers of “Peter, Paul, and Mary,” singing “Leavin’ on a Jet Plane.” There were others in chairs waiting for their prescriptions to be filled, people with gray hair. I smiled as I thought of our all being from the same generation, and I was able to read on their faces a kind of nostalgia as we all listened to that music from almost fifty years before, music that was perhaps taking us all back for a few moments to the days of our youth, when we were in high school or college. Without having to speak, we were sharing a collective history together.
“I’m leavin’ on a jet plane.
I don’t know when I’ll be back again…”
As my name was called to pick up the prescriptions, a recording of The Mamas and the Papas played, “California Dreamer.” It was almost as though Walgreens knew that their clientele at the prescription counter would be people our age, those who need a little extra help in coping with the painful reality of aging. Then I made my way out the automatic doors into the parking lot and back into the present world, the” real” world, that eventually the young of today will remember nostalgically too, perhaps while sitting in a room in some future Walgreens, waiting for their own prescriptions to be filled, looking back at what it was like to be young, and sharing that bliss silently with others from their own time. The winter of one’s life isn’t so bad if only he can recall sometimes those warm, sunny days of being young. JB
“All the leaves are brown and the sky is grey.
I’ve been for a walk on a winter’s day.
I’d be safe and warm if I was in L.A.
California dreaming on such a winter’s day.”