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The Great Intercession


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It was like an awakening for me, at such a young and innocent age. I mean, to fall so hard, so completely, into the heart, body and soul of another person. It was entirely unexpected and I was certainly not prepared for it.  After all, I was only 13 years old, and if the truth be known, I was already an emotional wreck. Of course, I had experienced physical and sexual stirrings, even crushes before, but this hit me like a Mack truck! Now that I think about it, I was in my place of refuge, my hide-away, my fortress of saving grace at the time of the great intercession. Not unlikely then, my guard would be down and my heart, soul and body would soak it up like a desert in a rain forest.

The nights were hot in this average sized Midwestern town, and sleep was difficult on the wet, sweaty sheets, where the only cooling came from open windows and cross ventilation. Listening to the hum of the window fans as they tried to bring some relief from the second story humid air, and laying awake, I was thinking of adventure, of passion, of feeling alive.  I was in my second home; the only place where I had come to know unconditional love and acceptance. A place where, summer after summer, I was able to move from surviving to thriving. But that one particular summer was the most unearthing for me.  It was the summer of 66. It was the summer I met him and my insides turned out.

It’s amazing how an event can forever change your life, and remains a constant, living part of who you are, even 45 years later, regardless of what else has happened since. It was a convergence; a brief but poignant meeting of two hearts, two bodies and two souls. At least, that's the way I thought and felt.

I would be remiss to not mention that, amidst the unfolding of the flower of the one relationship, I was surrounded by others, who I also came to love and who also loved me and accepted me. Thus again, allowing me to feel I did belong somewhere and I did have some value.

I met him on a scalding June day, one so thick with humidity you had to push your way through it.  Being a kid, I didn’t even notice the _weather, in fact the sultriness just added to the anticipation of something mysterious about to happen.  We were all gathered together at someone’s house, as kids usually do-hanging out, drinking cokes (out of the bottle with a cap) eating chips, listening to the songs of the day; “Brown Eyed Girl,” “ Dock of the Bay,” “Wild Thing,” shooting the breeze. He was there.  He was new.  He was mysterious.  He was?wait a minute?.   arrogant? offensive? Oh no, I said, this is all too familiar, I get enough of this from my family.  And that was that, so I thought.

I’d definitely written him off. I mean, even though he was one of them, I became an integral part of the gang anyway, which thrilled me to death, since it was my first experience with inclusion.  I merely tolerated him.  That is, until the music started.

It just so happened, one day, while we were gathering, usually on someone’s front porch, (back in the day when neighbors actually talked to each other), I noticed him, and some others, lugging their guitars along. Instantly I became curious and wondered what was going to happen next. I mean, I knew what guitars were for, and I guess I thought we’d do a few rounds of “Blowing in the Wind. “ But when they started playing, and singing, I became suddenly transfixed and transported to a world of emotional, spiritual and physical euphoria. As he looked at me and sang, I fell fast and I fell hard.  I knew I would never be the same again.  It was one of the few pivotal moments of my life.  It’s not like I didn’t listen to music, like other kids, and enjoy the new “age of rock and roll,” and even entertain the thought of being a singer, (I thought I had a good voice, had a passion to sing, felt I’d been given a gift from God, but my brother and parents convinced me finally, after enough nasty, ugly comments about my singing, that God and I must be wrong.) However, the natural, basic, rhythm of the sounds of the voices and guitars stirred in me a dormant passion; a need to connect, a need to join in, a need to share, a need to express myself openly, without guilt or shame.  What a freeing moment. What a new awareness.

And so the love, and yes, lust, travelled on the waves of the music, him to me, and me to him.  Unspoken at first, the feelings remained silent throughout the brief time we had together, only through the music did we share a common bond.  We talked of other things of course. And we did other things.  We laid on the soft grass and looked up at the stars.  We talked about what we believed in, (our belief in God) what was important to us. We talked about the new “conflict” overseas and why we didn’t agree with it.  We laughed. We laid together on the couch and watched 007 take out another bad guy, take on another woman. (Sean Connery was actually the same age in reality as he was in the movie!) We played cards.  We spent time alone together and with our “gang.” We kissed, and kissed, and kissed   some more.  We were melded, kindred spirits, soul mates, even if for only blip on my radar.

And the music continued. He would play and sing for me. Warm nights, hot days. Always on the porch, alone or with the “gang” .  For those passionate months in this Midwestern town, I came to know joy and love. Almost like a drug, I couldn’t get enough. I was now tasting spiritual and emotional food I had not been served before. I lavished in it. It felt right, natural, healthy.  I felt almost normal. For a short moment, I thought I was special, attractive, whole. The music and him took me there.  “Why wouldn’t I want more and more?” “Shouldn’t I.”

I was still too young to understand all the dynamics at play here. I know at some point at the end of my time in St. Joe in the summer of 66,  my baseline, my wounded me began to sneak back in. Maybe because I knew I had to leave soon, and I became nervous. I knew I had to return to the hostile climate. The place where there was no nurturing. The world with people who were harsh with words and acts.  Where I felt “less than” and “defective.”’ Where I was “shy”, “inhibited “and “alone.” My spirit and heart, out of fear, started retreating inward, like a tortoise retreating into her shell.  We bumped heads, had conflicting expectations, and even my Irish temper flared.  But yet we stayed connected by the music, the music of my hope, the music of my God, the healing sounds of my renewal, and the music of the unspoken connection between us.

I remember with clarity the day I left that sleepy Midwestern town at the end of summer. He had gone fishing. I waited until the last possible moment to leave to say good-bye.  But the command from on high came down, “We’re leaving, now. Get in the car.” The sky was cloudy. It looked like rain. As we drove off toward highway 36, the trusted, true blue route to Denver, I kept looking through the back window for some last glimpse, a sign of hope.  And then I was home.

I suppose it was a lot like detoxing from a drug. It took me a month to grieve. I didn’t want to let go. I’m that kind of person. I don’t let go of things easily (maybe the Odawa in me). I didn’t want to be where I was. I stayed in bed for days.  I wanted to go back to the music, to him. But what can a 13 year old do? There was no choice.

I’m not going to tell you that my life got better. It didn’t. I continued to live in a toxic environment; One replete with yelling, criticism, favoritism, tyranny, emotional and sensory neglect and physical abuse. My struggle to survive would continue for many more years. And yet every so often, the healing fountain I discovered in me in the summer “66 “, would rise to the surface and remind me to thrive, not just survive.

Perhaps that’s because the summer trips to my grandmother’s didn’t stop in 1966.  Yes, I went back to that sleepy, Midwestern town every summer until I was 17.  Although it was never  quite the same between him and I, the summer of 66 would remain an inoculation for me  throughout my life. And  those other summers, we would see each other, we would talk, and best of all, he would play and sing for me.  I might even sing too, if I felt confident enough.

And so you see, the fountain would again flow in me, my head, heart and soul would emerge from my fortress, and I again would feel special, attractive and whole, if only for a short time.

And believe it or not, throughout the past 45 years, through my striving to thrive, I have always felt a connection to him as the feelings remain unspoken, but alive through the music.  Not just his music, but mine as well.


© 2012 Lynne Pierce-French

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