"These guys are going to be the next big thing." Those words came out of the annoying teenage boy who lived next door to me.
I grabbed the 45 record cover from his fingers. Four guys smiled at me. They were different looking with long hair. Cute. Cute. Cute. And Cuter. But a bit weird. And what kind of song was I Want to Hold Your Hand, anyway?
It was the early 1960s. I carried a transistor radio up and down my street, waiting for The Beach Boys to sing to me about surfing. I wanted to ride Dead Man’s Curve with Jan and Dean. And Oh, Bobby Vinton. I still melt when I hear Blue Velvet. These guys with the funny haircuts and silly grins! They didn’t fit into my world. At. All.
"Yeah, right?" I rolled my eyes at my neighbor. What did he know? He was into riding his bike over our front lawn, and trying to peek in my bedroom window.
"That’s what my dad said," he yelled as I walked away. "Just wait and see."
Well, it didn’t take much waiting. His father worked for Capital records at the time and he definitely knew what he was talking about. A few months after that conversation, The Beatles appeared on the Ed Sullivan show.
"I told you," my neighbor taunted that next day at school.
But I didn't care that he had been right. By then I was totally in love with this new band from Liverpool.
The evening of their performance, I sat in front of the TV while my mom colored my hair. A ritual she performed once a month on a Sunday. Hold still, she demanded over and over as I moved closer to our black and white TV screen. Halfway through their performance, she stopped pestering me. In fact, she stopped working on my hair altogether. She, too, was mesmerized by the four "mop tops" singing as if they were giving us a private show.
In that moment, I realized we finally had music we could share. I didn't much care for the opera music she played every Sunday. She called most of the songs I listened to "noise." But with The Beatles, finally we had found a common sound.
From that day forward, whenever we were in the car together, we would change the radio station, hoping for a Beatles' song. With a broken heart, I cried to "Looking Through You," while my mom and I drove to the mall to do some Hanukah shopping. We talked about my need for birth control while The Beatles sang "Penny Lane" in the background. And we listened to The White Album while setting up my first apartment.
And I had thought this bonding would last forever. But of course, nothing does.
The other morning while running our usual errands, I turned on Breakfast with the Beatles, a radio show which airs every Sunday morning on a local Los Angeles radio station. All My Loving was playing. For the next few minutes, I became my sixteen year old self, squirming with excitement while my mom pestered me to sit still.
"Remember that night?" I asked.
"What honey," my mom answered.
"The Ed Sullivan show. They played this song."
"Who played what?"
My heart expanded until I thought it would explode. I knew she was having trouble hearing, but I didn't realize it had progressed to this point. I turned the radio up, until it was blaring so loud, the words became distorted.
During that car ride, I thought about what it must be like to reach ninety. Besides, losing most of your friends, your senses begin to diminish. I used to think if I had to lose a sense, it would be my hearing. But not so much anymore. Could I live in a world of silence? A world without rain drops, giggles or honking horns? A world without music?
One note of a favorite song and we are pulled into the past, as if it were actually happening again. We fall so deep into the memory, all of our senses come alive. It’s the closest thing to time travel that I have ever experienced.
As The Beatles' voices filled my car, I could smell the ash blonde hair dye my mom applied to my roots. I felt the tug of her hand. I could taste the bubbly Tab, which I almost spilled during my excitement. I could feel the cool breeze blowing in from the patio.
It saddens me that I am slowly losing the mom I’ve known all my life. To paraphrase the Fab Four, "We have traveled a long and winding mother/daughter road."
But as long as we're still on it, I'll remember for the both of us.
Janie Emaus believes that when the world is falling apart, we're just one laugh away from putting it together again. She writes about how life is NOW compared to THEN, with her special blend of funny and sweet. She is the author of the time travel romance, Before the After, and the young adult novel, Mercury in Retro Love. And she has an essay in the Best Selling humor anthology, You Have Lipstick On Your Teeth. She is a staff writer at In The Powder Roomand blogs frequently for The Huffington Post. She is proud to be named a 2013 BlogHer Voice of the Year. To learn more about Janie visit her blog www.theboomerrants.com and her website www.JanieEmaus.com.