Summer has ended and I have been back at work as a school bus driver for almost a month now and loving it, loving that it takes me away from myself and my worries, and that between my morning and afternoon runs, between taking my students to school and bringing them home again, I have four hours to myself to do anything I want to do.
And what I have been doing a lot of during my free time is walking and listening to music while I walk. What I enjoy is listening to classics like Marvin Gaye’s 1971 album What’s Going On, which is my all-time favorite album and the only album I can listen to from beginning to end over and over again. It is also the album that showed how prescient he was about global health and global warming. I also like to listen to modern classics, to everything from Sam Smith’s Lay Me Down to Josh Groban’s You Raise Me Up. I listen to music because, for me, it acts like a propeller and makes me believe I can spread my arms and fly, although every once in a while I hear a song that has the exact opposite effect on me. Like Groban’s Bring Him Home, a song which, when I heard it for the first time, stopped me dead in my tracks and threatened to bring me to my knees.
Sometimes while on my afternoon run I drive past a shopping center that was once a part of my childhood and of my growing up years. When we were young, my four sisters and I used to watch it being built. That shopping center is also where I met my best friend back in 1961 when we were both working as waitresses at the Horn and Hardart restaurant. She was 16 and I was 19 and we remained friends until the early 2000’s when she died unexpectedly. But before that, she had a habit that I loved. Whenever I wanted to talk to her about something serious, I would begin with her name. “Bernice,” I would say, and she would always respond with the single word, “Listening.” I guess passing that mall brought that memory back to me because last night when I sat down to meditate I imagined God calling my name and I responded the way Bernice always responded to me, with the single word, “Listening.”
My memoir, Dear Elvis, can be found at amzn.to/2uPSFtE