2017

Those Were the Days

It is Spring in Virginia! Actually, this whole Winter, except for a few cold and snowy days here and there, has been a continuous Spring. When I go out on our patio at five o’clock in the morning to have my first cup of coffee and cigarette for the day, I hear the tweeting of the totally disoriented birds, the poor things! It’s not yet time for Spring, they seem to be saying, yet on most days it feels like it is! The bulbs and the trees, too, don’t know what to make of this befuddling situation! Is it time, they, too, seem to be asking, isn’t it too early, why the snow showers in March, have we missed anything? What can I tell them? Maybe it’s not time, I whisper, but, hey! Just make the most of it and go with the flow, for who knows – since our planet is heating up literally and figuratively – when one day you might be wistfully singing: Those Were the Days . . .  I take a sip of coffee, inhale my cigarette . . . it’s a nostalgic kind of morning . . . memories . . . sad, yet sweet . . .the song plays in my mind . . .

Once upon a time there was a tavern

Where we used to raise a glass or two

Yes, once upon a time, our tavern was in Beirut during those beautiful, heady days of what was a glorious city during the sixties . . . Faisal’s wasn’t exactly a tavern, but it had that cozy atmosphere.

Remember how we laughed away the hours

And dreamed of all the great things we would do

Oh, how we laughed! Oh, how we aired our dreams of what great things would happen to us, to Lebanon, to the Middle East . . .

Those were the days my friend

We thought they’d never end

And, oh yes, we were so convinced that those days would never end, but they did, abruptly, horribly, terribly from the mouth of a gun, and the blast of a bomb; from a war that was choreographed elsewhere, staged, manipulated, paid for with blood money and with our lives . . .

We’d sing and dance forever and a day

. . . and long and loud we sang! And how beautifully we danced to those familiar tunes, swaying and undulating with our sequined scarves provocatively tied around our hips just like Tahiya Karioka and Samia Jamal . . . forever and a day . . .

We’d live the life we choose

That didn’t work out as well as we had imagined, did it now?

We’d fight and never lose

And wasn’t that naïve! For lose we did, indeed! Our parents had lost Palestine, we lost our Lebanon – the skirmishes and incidents that this season always reminds me of took place that February, March and April of 1975 heralding the onset of the bloody Civil War – and that was just a prelude to the losses in the Middle East; of the traumas; heartaches; alienation; uprooting; migration; assimilation . . . and a wrench in the heart that will never, ever go away.

For we were young and sure to have our way.

La la la la,

La la la la! Yes, we were young, but surely we weren’t allowed to have our way, were we?

Those were the days, oh yes those were the days

Oh, yes!

Then the busy years went rushing by us

We were working; raising our families; changing nappies, kissing ouchies away, first steps, first words, visits to the pediatrician, waving goodbye on that first day of kindergarten, attending the school performance and dabbing at our tears; report cards, meetings with teachers, birthday parties; picnics; the beach, graduating from the kiddie pool to joyfully flapping in the Mediterranean Sea; then all hell breaking loose; hustling to an airplane, flying off, lugging our children to safety, holding our broken hearts, wiping our tears and dismay, our terror, and thinking: until when will this fucking history continue to repeat itself?

We lost our starry notions on the way

Yes, we did lose our starry notions on the way, and, it seemed, that we had lost most everything else too.

If by chance I’d see you in the tavern

We’d smile at one another and we’d say

Those were the days my friend

We thought they’d never end

We’d sing and dance forever and a day

We’d live the life we choose

We’d fight and never lose

For we were young and sure to have our way.

La la la la,

Those were the days, oh yes those were the days

Those were the days, my friend!

Just tonight I stood before the tavern

Alas, it’s not the same tavern. My tavern is now miles and miles across the ocean, far, so very far away!

Nothing seemed the way it used to be

It isn’t!

In the glass I saw a strange reflection

Was that lonely woman really me

The reflection of that woman is me, but she is not really lonely – well, most of the time anyway. She doesn’t have time for lonely. Yet, occasionally, such as on this nostalgic morning of memories . . . yes, she/me is lonely . . . for what was . . . what could, and what might have been . . .

Those were the days my friend

We thought they’d never end

We’d sing and dance forever and a day

We’d live the life we choose

We’d fight and never lose

For we were young and sure to have our way.

La la la la,

Those were the days, oh yes those were the days

Those were the days!

Through the door there came familiar laughter

I saw your face and heard you call my name

Oh my friend we’re older but no wiser

For in our hearts the dreams are still the same

Oh my friend, yes, I am comfortably older, but I am also wiser too, and in my heart, the dreams are really still the same. Yes, they are. However, they are not dreams for myself anymore. No. not anymore. They are dreams for my children and for my grandchildren, for all the war-ravaged grieving parents and children across the Middle East and our fearful planet; dreams that occasionally wake me up as they transform themselves into the nightmares that are happening, and that we could see more horrid versions of if our politicians continue to be the corrupt, reckless, greedy bunch that they are; if the mainstream media continues to abide in what has become a sham of an institution; if our corporations continue to put avaricious profit above people’s health and well-being; if arrogance and ignorance – a deadly duo – persist.

Those were the days my friend

We thought they’d never end

We’d sing and dance forever and a day

We’d live the life we choose

We’d fight and never lose

For we were young and sure to have our way.

For today, and in celebration of the spring season, and in sad memory of a dismal few months that were the beginning of our upturned lives, as well as the disconcerting images of a planet in serious distress, I will leave my fears under my pillow and watch the sun rising from behind the befuddled trees, with the bewildered birds resting on confused branches, and just sip some more coffee, light another cigarette, leave the nostalgia alone . . . for today, for this morning . . . because life is meant to be enjoyed, and . . . because tomorrow . . . I don’t know . . . I can’t promise anything . . . there is a lot to do if we plan on getting things right for this ailing planet . . . of waging Peace, not War!

La la la la,

Those were the days, oh yes those were the days . . .

Advertisements

3 thoughts on “Those Were the Days”

  1. Wonderful essay. You always manage to conclude on a positive note 🙂
    To me this song is really a eulogy to youth. Every generation deals with all kinds of crap, but youth somehow denies it all and empowers us to enjoy life nonetheless. I guess the message here is to remember to act like kids every now and then. You know the saying..”we don’t stop playing because we grow old, we grow old because we stop playing.”
    So let’s start playing more!!
    This song is now an ear worm in my head and it will be there for the rest of the day! Thanks! 😉

    1. I remember this Ray Conniff song. I am not sure that your parents lost Palestine – it was more like a tsunami that could not be stopped. And too many forces set out to destroy what was once the jewel of the ME – Lebanon. Don’t blame – sometimes events become totally out of control. We are trying to move forward while remembering. Many thanks for articulating your thoughts!

  2. Brought back so many memories-good and bad.
    At the end we can only hope for a better future but it ain’t looking so good right now.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s