…follow the road signs …connect the dots …and download the updates… and pull into I-Hop

I’ve been thinking about “peace” again. Or, rather, more.

My GPS is a few years old and lacks updated mapping for certain parts of the town in which I live. When it doesn’t know an address, rather than just admit its lack of knowledge, it defaults to one nearby. I am directionally challenged and only discovered this when my GPS took me – over and over – to a place which turned out to be a stoplight and a cross street away from the place where I really needed to be. It took me forty minutes to get somewhere when it should have taken me only ten, and would have taken me only ten had I ever bothered to actually look at the road signs, connect the dots, or, have downloaded the updates as the GPS tells me to do each time I turn it on.

I was thinking about this tonight. I happened to have occasion to re-visit the place I couldn’t before find, it’s still not part of my GPS, but it’s one of my dots. On my way back, I passed an I-Hop. I spent a great many nights at I-Hop this summer. And, well, difficult to adequately describe the nights without invading the privacy of another; so I’ll just say that the reason for being there was not grand, and I am glad it is remedied, but the being there – despite the less than wonderful reason – still made me happy; or, rather, in time, now that the sad reason is no more, the memory of having been there, having been called to be there, will qualify as a “good” rather than a “bad” memory.

A dot. A dot that changes with time. A dot that has a lot of facets, a lot of angles for which it can be seen. A dot both good and bad (and probably, too, good and bad again in other ways) like almost everything. It is about distance, it is about time, it is about the way one sees things – how one chooses to remember.

I got melancholy on my way home. And when I got here, there was a two hour “Murder She Wrote” with Jessica in Ireland. I’d never seen it. When it finished (and I saw only the last few minutes) came the credits, “In Memory of Peter Shaw.” Oh dear. This was the one she made immediately after her husband died, a loss from which Miss Angela Lansbury has said she has never quite recovered.

Miss Lansbury in GYPSY

Miss Lansbury in GYPSY

Miss Lansbury in SWEENEY TODD

Miss Lansbury in SWEENEY TODD

I get that too. I connect Miss Lansbury with my aunt, Frances, whose death was a loss from which I have never quite recovered. Frances, or, as we called her, Sissie, took me to see Miss Lansbury in Gypsy. My first “real” show. And then, later, took me to see her in Sweeney Todd in New York. And later, on my own, I saw Miss Lansbury in Blithe Spirit. Here now, dots, in Gypsy, she was absolutely brilliant, a whirlwind, a dervish, a wild explosion of powerful belting and running and emotion gone amok. In Sweeney Todd she was the consummate artist; every single moment, syllable, note, look, gesture was pitch perfect, a work of complete genius, a true legend at the top of her game offering up a performance it took a lifetime of training and experience to produce. By Blithe Spirit, she was still that artist, still a legend, but a bit off her game, wearing an earpiece to help with lines, nonetheless, an absolute joy.

Miss Lansbury in BLITHE SPIRIT

Miss Lansbury in BLITHE SPIRIT

Dots, you see. At three different times in her life she had three very different sorts of brilliant and marvelous gifts of performance to offer me, and all three meant very different things to very different me’s. The barely adolescent me who saw Gypsy was an awestruck youth, I remember him full of hope. By Sweeney, things had started to go wrong, and I was less hopeful, feeling lost, and trying to pretend I knew what I was doing. By Blithe Spirit, I was already drowning. I was trying to stay afloat, trying to imagine my way out of my sorrow, convince myself I could – I had to – somehow, make the life I was living work – even though I was more and more miserable all the time.

Thing was – all three of those Charlie’s – I see now, had in common with this Charlie typing this – there were road signs they – or, we – or, I – just NEVER saw. Or, saw and completely ignored. I kept following various versions of emotional GPS – programmed with things I ‘d been taught/told/badgered – about what I should do, and what I ought, and believing myself responsible for the happiness and reality of others, and – well, the point is –

– it seems now, where I SHOULD be – where I am LOOKING for – is always a stoplight and a cross-street in some other direction and I never quite know how to get there, how to find it, and it is taking me far longer than it ought to – and, tonight, when I drove past I-Hop, I wanted to just pull in and call someone and say, “You know, right now, I am sad – can YOU meet ME at I-Hop? Because, I really could use that tonight.”

I-Hop Smokehouse Combo

I-Hop Smokehouse Combo

But, I let that dot pass. I drove past that sign. I listened to – I fear – again – a GPS lacking the most up-to-date information, an old GPS leading me astray saying, “just don’t.”

And that has not brought me peace tonight. And I miss Sissie. And . . .

One thought on “…follow the road signs …connect the dots …and download the updates… and pull into I-Hop

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