We’d been waiting for the new parish center for years. Father Duffy brought its construction up at every mass and the fundraising was epic, as were the sales pitches: the auditorium would double as a roller skating rink, the young adult groups would have a place to meet, offices would be expanded allowing St. Mary’s to be served well and ably, the school would have an indoor basketball court AND bleachers. Plus, even more exciting for some people who were my parents, a new church space would be built, and our clergy would no longer have to conduct mass in a little old charming chapel, because a larger, more modern, DISCO church would be added onto the small nave of the lovely historic space, with enough room for parishioners to bring extended family, distended soul, and pretended grace along with them.
The new church came first, but the always-to-be-built parish center plans ruled St. Mary’s student imaginations from 1978 to 1980.
Finally, the parish center renderings made themselves known in stone and concrete and glass, and everything Fr. Duffy promised arrived. I remember the week the parish center opened because John Lennon had just been shot, and the air was charged with history changing and that kind of feeling you get when a ripple in human collective consciousness lets loose.
Yet, my attention turned pretty quickly to the sleek, plastic-looking yellow-with-red-checks auditorium floors, the very ones to serve as a sometimes roller skating rink; and as foundation to the meeting space for the Young Adult Madness Society (Y.A.M.S.), run by my high-school-aged crush, Joe Pinder.
I’d just turned 12, and strange feelings arose in my solar plexus when Air Supply’s “Lost in Love” played on my wooden Panasonic stereo, a parent-bequeathed musical luxury with silver-ridged buttons I’d turn up to the right more often than to the left. I’d lay my head down on my bedroom’s green shag carpet next to the Panasonic’s speakers every night, a familiar movement I could re-enact for you to this day. Always waiting for the top 10 of the evening to be announced; I’d usually spend the time during commercials placing the faded blue-labeled Air Supply 45 on my turntable, laying the spindly needle down just so on the black vinyl, thrilling to the scratchy cue of impending solar-plexus pre-pubescent urges.
After my Air Supply moment, it was back to the radio, and if you ask me now, I could sing any song played on it from 1978 to 1983 word for word, especially those heart-piercingly sung by Christopher Cross, Eagles, or Dan Fogelberg.
I carried the sensibilities evoked by lyric and rhythm with me into the parish center’s opening. Everything had a soundtrack, naturally: my crush on Joe Pinder (“Don’t Fall in Love With a Dreamer”), my adolescence (“This is It”), and that yearning, churning, persistent tap on the pre-pubescent head, saying “who are you going to be? who are you going to be? who are you going to be?” (“Cool Change”).
EVERYTHING felt magical and touched by song. Like if the words I heard every night could come true and be real, if those stories familiar through speakers might be a kind of life I could create, if what were ahead were soul-thrumming, and heart-pounding, and love-bonking – delivered to me through renderings hinted at and eventually made known in 3D.
In the interim, I donned my orange-rubber-wheeled roller skates and hummed inside my head, as Fr. Duffy made pleas for the next thing, as Joe Pinder’s mom died of cancer, as I learned that songs could be fabrications, and as life continued to happen, ripple after ripple.
Today’s writing prompt is: what songs defined you? made you who you are? bring you back to a “time?”
Add your post/comment/prompt answer below in the comments or write a post of your own and include the link for us to read!
Meanwhile…to bone up on PROMPTuesdays, read a bit about it here.
Or, catch up on the PROMPTuesdays archive here.