Another Roadside Attraction

Oak Island, a wave frozen in time

A dream about the “girls” that morphs into something completely different:

1. The girls and the vacation

We (Hubby and I) decide to rent an RV and take Kate to the beach. Kate invites her friend Little Sister to come with us. As we’re all meeting up in the parking lot at the RV rental place, which is really just  down the road from our house—Little and Big Sisters live between here and RV place—Little Sister pulls into the parking lot. Little gets out of the car, and so does a friend of hers that we don’t know. We’ll call her Jaune, since jaune seems to mean yellow in French, according to Google translate, and she was wearing a yellow beach dress. Turns out Jaune is a friend of Little’s, and Little has invited her to accompany us on our RV road trip to the beach, but Little forgot to tell us. OK, fine….whatever. Little and Jaune start loading their gear into the RV when a third vehicle pulls into the parking lot. Big Sister gets out of the passenger side, toting her luggage. Seems Big is a friend of Jaune’s, and Jaune has invited Big to accompany her, and Little, and us, on our trip. Big’s dad gets out of the car and walks over to Hubby, who expects him to say something about being relieved that the “Big” blow-up is past and that Kate and Big are sisters again.

Only Big’s dad doesn’t say that. He tells Hubby, as he always has when we’ve done anything for Big,  how much he appreciates what we’ve done for Big over the years, mainly because her step-mom is hopeless and abusive. So Hubby asks the question: “Do you not know what’s been going on between Kate and Bit and Little recently?”

Nope, not a clue. So Hubby fills Big’s dad in, he apologizes for Big’s bad behavior, and we agree to let Big come on the trip with us anyway. During the drive to the beach, Little and Jaune try to get Big to open up to Kate about their break-up, but she continues to refuse to accept her part of the responsibility. The reconciliation conversations get nowhere.

In the meantime, up in the cockpit, the weather turns nasty. Big storms, tornado warnings, strong lightning. We decide to get off the road ASAP and find a local Roadside Attraction, very similar to Tweetsie Railroad in Boone, complete with multiple trains. We pull into the parking lot to wait out the storm. Since we have some time to kill, I decide I need to work on my homework.

(segue into)

Dream 2. At the local college

Turns out I’m taking another online class-physics, I think; I’ve been considering that for the fall- that requires campus attendance for lab, and there just happens to be a campus close to the Roadside Attraction. I decide to take advantage of the unexpected, and potentially dangerous, break in our travels to go onto campus for class. I am magically transported to class.

All of the students in the class are adult learners like me. Well, not quite like me. Most of them are in their 30’s and already have careers. They are working on honing career skills, or pursuing second career options,  while I’m just having play time. During some free time, I strike up an innocent conversation with one particular student that soon turns very serious. I tell him about our delayed vacation, about the trials and tribulations of teenage “mean girls”. He asks why I’m taking science and engineering classes when I already have a music degree. (How did he know that, anyway?) I tell him I don’t really know the answer to that question. He tells me that he is currently working as a tee-vee meteorologist, but is also studying music. He is a singer.

After class, we all go our separate ways, and I magically get back to the RV at Roadside Attraction, only to find everyone glued to a news report on the tee-vee. There has been a campus shooting, at the campus I just left, during the time period when our class was breaking up and we were leaving. One of my classmates has been shot.

Since no names have been released, the tee-vee reporter shares a hotline phone number for friends and families of any suspected victims. I immediately call the number and discover that, yes, a member of my class was shot as he walked to his car. His name is not released, but he has been taken to the hospital and is listed in stable but serious condition. After waiting a few minutes, I call the hotline back to see if there are any updates. The person on the other end of the line immediately starts asking me all sorts of security questions. Once he is satisfied that I am a student at the school, and was in the same class as the victim of the shooting, I am bluntly informed that the student has died, and who he was.

Yes, he was the singing meteorologist. He also happened to be the singer who had played Phantom in the movie “Love Never Dies.” I am shocked. I call the hotline back one more time, only to find that it has been disconnected.

We spend the night in the Roadside Attraction RV lot, and leave the next morning. As we are driving away, we watch the trains chugging along on their routes through the park, the cars filled to capacity. Just people enjoying a day at the park. I become very confused. I assumed that there would be students there, vigils, candles, teddy bears…all of the trappings of young life cut short that we have all become so used to seeing. I ask an employee of the park where the students are gathered for the vigil, and he answers that this particular student body isn’t that close. “Or that morbid,” he says. “Vigils after violent incidents are a waste of time, energy and focus.” Life goes on at this particular school, even when tragedy occurs. My reaction to his comments indicates that I find the lack of acknowledgment of the passing of a fellow human being to be disrespectful, at the least. Surely everyone has done something in his or her life that deserves to be honored and blessed when that person leaves this world.

When I woke up I was thinking, “That beautiful voice has been silenced for nothing. His talent, wasted.” And the news report says that the killer “just wanted to kill someone.”

————————-

So, who really gives a damn about all this anyway? I think I mentioned that there are parts of “Love Never Dies” that I can’t listen to without sobbing. Well, it’s not parts. It is the song “Til I Hear You Sing”, and here are the lyrics:

Phantom:

Ten long years living a mere facade of life. Ten long years wasting my time with smoke and noise. In my mind I hear melodies pure and unearthly, but I find I can’t give them a voice without you. My Christine, my Christine. Lost and gone, lost and gone…

The day starts, the day ends. Time crawls by. Night steals in pacing the floor. The moments creep, yet I can’t bear to sleep ’til I hear you sing. And weeks pass, and months pass. Seasons fly. Still you don’t walk through the door, and in a haze I count the silent days ’til I hear you sing once more.

And sometimes at nighttime I dream that you are there, but wake holding nothing but the empty air…

And years come, and years go. Time runs dry. Still I ache down to the core. My broken soul can’t be alive and whole ’til I hear you sing once more.

And music, your music, it teases at my ear. I turn and it fades away and you’re not here!

Let hopes pass, let dreams pass. Let them die! Without you what are they for? I always feel no more than halfway real, ’til I hear you sing once more!

So, I can pick this apart almost a word at a time, and understand why it tears me apart. It hasn’t been 10 years for me. Depending on how I decide to look at it, it’s been almost 8 years (my great-grandmother Lena Pearl died 8 years ago next week), or it’s been 24 years (since I started working in computer systems and all but side-lined music), “wasting my time with smoke and noise.” His Christine is the piano. It haunts me in my dreams, and taunts me when I play it. I can hear it laughing at me: “And music, your music, it teases at my ear. I turn and it fades away and you’re not here!” Rest of lyrics are pretty much self-explanatory.

The visceral anger that you hear in the Phantom’s voice as he says, “Let hopes pass. Let dreams pass. Let them DIE!” That’s the part I can’t get past. It hurts to hear it, and I think I’m torturing myself with it. The music is stunningly beautiful, the words are frighteningly real to me.

Why this libretto, why this music, why this story, NOW? What tripped my trigger, and why NOW? What in heaven’s name is going on here? I might understand it if I thought there had ever been a chance that I was actually gifted, or merely talented, rather than just skilled. There are major differences between those words: gifted, talented, skilled. And they are transferable from one medium to another.

I am a moment frozen in time, waiting for something to melt so I can move again.

Antarctica, a wave frozen in time

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One response to “Another Roadside Attraction

  1. why ask “why NOW”? Why perseverate on that? Why not just get on with the piano? Because you know the anger in the Phantom’s voice is that it DOESN’T die. And if it did, he would die anyway so then who would care. Get on with it. Do something. It isn’t ever going to be “what it was” but it can be something.

    I will also about have to say that I agree with the other person on the vigils thing: I tend to think people who participate in those vigils, who claim to be very “affected” by something that doesn’t actually affect them at all, are just suffering vicariously, which is even worse than living vicariously. Not that things that “don’t affect me” don’t cause me to reflect; they do. Anyway.

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