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a grown-up, singing with love

Just back from an exciting night – an event called “Grown-ups Read Stuff They Wrote as Kids.” Apparently, this is the 11th such night, in which several hundred people gather to laugh at their own young selves and each other. I’d heard about them but had been unable to attend because they were always on Mondays, when I teach. But my Monday class ended last week, so a few months ago, when I heard about this date, I signed up immediately. It is what it says – adults reading their childhood writings, from sentience to age 18.

Huge problem – how to narrow down my choice of reading material to five minutes, considering that I started writing stories and letters at six and a diary at nine? The mass of paper from my youth is never-ending. I finally picked, of course, my Paul McCartney material, to see how it worked with what I suspected would be a much younger audience.
It was – one woman read from the 70’s but everyone else, except me, was a thirty-something, reading diaries and stories from the late 80’s and early 90’s. And then I appeared, saying, “Let’s go back to the magical year 1964.” I read a diary excerpt and one of my fantasy stories about my relationship with Paul (“The Orphan”, in which he accidentally knocks me, a lonely orphan, down with his Aston-Martin, and, because I’m left crippled, adopts me – but we fall in love and … ) I ended with another diary entry, written at 2 a.m. in June 1965 after I’d seen the Beatles in concert twice in one day.

They liked it; they really liked it. One young woman, who read a very funny will she wrote when she was nine – “And my clothes should go to the poor” – came up to me after and said, “You were the best.” Not so, at all – some of the others were wonderful, moving, honest, and absolutely tears in the eyes hilarious. But perhaps my presentation was the most polished, because I am an actress and couldn’t help it making it a show. And also, I realized afterwards, the gift of comic timing, which I was lucky enough to inherit from the Jewish side of my family. Dealing with laughter for a story-teller or actor is like surfing in reverse – you feel the wave coming in, crashing over you, and the trick is to catch it as it starts to ebb, and plunge in again, to keep it rolling and rolling on.
A woman my age, the mother of one of the readers, tapped me on the shoulder during the intermission, after I’d read. She exclaimed at how articulate I was at 13. “Have you heard of the Nun Study?” she said. She told me about a famous study of the brains of nuns, invaluable because they all lived the same way, ate the same food etc. Before they became novitiates, the young nuns-in-waiting were asked to write an essay about why they wanted to enter the convent. It was discovered, after their deaths, that the ones who were most articulate in youth had lived longer or were afflicted with Alzheimer’s later than those who were not as articulate. Certain parts of their brains, it was discovered after their deaths, were actually denser.
I thanked my new friend profusely for this information, because, I said, “My grandmother had Alzheimer’s, so it’s something I fear.”
“Well then,” she said, “I have given you a gift, haven’t I?”
She certainly had. If youthful articulacy is anything to go by, I have a nicely dense brain. Woo hoo!

Here, for your entertainment, is a bit I did not have time to read last night, the beginning of a story about my life as Mrs. Paul McCartney, written when I was 14. Luckily, my view of marriage changed somewhat – though, thinking of the beginning of my own marriage, not that much, I have to say. Oh, there are so many wonderful, sweet tales to share. You’ll just have to wait for the book.

October 1965

“I love him, I love him, I love him,” my heart sang as I washed the dishes, polished the floor and made the beds.

“He is the sweetest man on earth,” I repeated as I folded his clothes, washed his socks and tidied his papers.

Work goes fast that way, when one’s whole person is singing with love.

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4 Responses to “a grown-up, singing with love”

  1. Jason Allen says:

    You speak with modesty, Beth.
    The room was eating out of your hand, and I felt so lucky to watch it happen.
    xJ.

  2. beth says:

    Jason, dear friend, thank you, but you are hardly an objective observer since you and I – and Peg, who was there too – form a passionate mutual admiration society.
    But – thank you.

  3. theresa says:

    Well, I think Paul missed the boat, Beth! Devotion and domestic skills — a vital combination! (Though I have a vivid memory of imagining him into my life in 1964 in the Halifax suburb of Spryfield. In my fantasy, we met on a trail leading to Kidstone Lake and he took my hand, told me I was what he was looking for…I couldn't listen to "I want to hold your hand" without crying.)

  4. beth says:

    Oh Theresa, too bad we didn't know each other then, there I was in Halifax imagining the same sort of thing. I wrote one story where Paul nearly dies of pneumonia but I hold his hand under the oxygen tent, and colour comes back into his cheeks. "It's a miracle, Mrs. McCartney!" says the doctor.

    Sigh.

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About Beth

I began keeping a journal at the age of nine. Nearly fifty years later, I started this online journal, sharing reflections, reviews, updates, and the occasional secret.

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Chris Walks
This blog evolves. It once was about travels. Now it’s a reason to be at the keyboard that I value.

Theresa Kishkan
Theresa Kishkan is a writer living on the Sechelt Peninsula on the west coast of Canada.

I walk on. With my feet, and in my mind as well.

Carrie Snyder
Wherever you’ve come from, wherever you’re going, consider this space a place for reflection and pause.

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