I wanted to write about depression.
I wanted to describe it to the lucky souls who don’t have it.
Dear lucky souls:
First, I can’t talk to you or anybody else. It would take a Herculean effort to stop crying and pull myself off the floor
I’m afraid you’d say: “Rise above it, get a grip, treat yourself to a Cherry Garcia ice cream, or a Mel Brooks movie.” Oh, okay, why didn’t I think of that? Ben & Jerry’s, when I couldn’t down a bite of food for 24 hours. “Young Frankenstein,” while facing the not funny, not young, monster – ME.
Then I’d have to say: “Depression is not a choice. Who would choose despair? It comes on like a surprise party in hell. It’s not situational. I’ve been devastated on “good” days and okay during major crisis. The WORST is that I see no way out of the black hole, and begin to consider death as a blessed relief.”
Emerson said “My moods don’t believe in each other.” Ralph, that’s the understatement of two centuries.
But good news, all you shiny, happy people! I’m not writing about depression!
It lifted last night, after 10 days. Damned if I know why. If it hadn’t, I wouldn’t be writing. I’d be counting enough sedatives to knock me out long enough for it to go away.
So, as William Styron said in “Darkness Visible” about his own relief from depression – “Once again, we behold the stars.”
I beheld the stars 49 years ago today, August 18, 1965. THE BEATLES. Atlanta Stadium. I was one of hysterical pre-teens you see in “A Hard Day’s Night.”
At 10 years old, I fell in love with The Beatles. Here I am writing about it 50 years later. I didn’t know what 50 years meant that night. I knew I was in love, especially with Paul. I vowed to marry him. Hey, there’s still a chance.
That steamy August night, in my madras plaid long sleeve shirt, a wool vest over a gray mini-skirt, knee socks, Beatle boots and a black leather newsboy cap like John Lennon wore, with pink-tinted granny glasses that I had deliberately failed an eye-test to have prescribed.
I still don’t get how my best friend, Suzanne Stroud and I convinced both our fathers to take us, along with a cousin, a brother and a sister. How did we all fit into a car?
Atlanta Stadium was brand new, space age, electric – The Braves had yet to play. The air shimmered. Outside the gates, I saw Paul McCartney laughing. I almost fainted. Then I saw Ringo. Ditto. Then I realized these were “decoys” – that’s what they called them – lookalikes to distract hysterical girls (me, and thousands of others.) Incredibly, there were empty seats. Back then, Atlanta was virginal, yet to be implanted with the bad seed that would become Hot ‘Lanta and the ATL.
The official program had a photo of Jean Shrimpton, a supermodel before there were such things, in a full page ad for “The London Look.” Pigtails. Glosssy lipstick. Smokey eyes. I would’ve happily lived two-dimensionally for life just to become that photo. The full-page B/W shots of each Beatle were swoon-worthy. John with a life-size teddy bear. George, with a cowboy hat, looking pensive, like a pissed off James Dean. Paul. Oh, Paul…
After the opening act, “Cannibal and the Headhunters,” the Beatles ran onto the second base stage. They played for 45 minutes, warping the time/space continuum, becoming eternal. Screaming without ceasing, while our dads covered their ears. Dad said he had to restrain me from jumping the rails, but I don’t think I was that brave, even in an altered state. Shockingly, John forgot a lyric that I knew like my own heartbeat. Weren’t they as obsessed with themselves and their music as I was, eight days a week?
Going home, in the parking lot traffic jam, kids had programs pressed to windows – the full-page photo of their favorite Beatle, like today’s car flags for UGA, et. al. Paul, Paul, Paul – oh Paul! I held up his page all the way home.
“I shook a man’s hand that shook all four Beatles’ hands today,” Mr. Stroud announced, while driving. Screams all around, as we leaped over seats to kiss his hand on the steering wheel.
At home, Mother, who would never have gone, said she smelled me before she saw me. Wet sweaty wool clothes. Crying, laughing and storming the field, in August, works up a sweat.
“I’m not taking them off,” I said, retreating to the living room stereo, to circle with a pencil, every song they played on back of my album covers. I love to look at those circles. I played all six (then) albums repeatedly, when my mother spoiled my party, well after midnight, directing me to bed.
“No,” I’ve just started “Beatles ’65 – second side.”
She left, returning with a glass of water and two yellow pills – “mothers’ little helpers” – as Mick Jagger sang. She actually gave a 10-year-old Valium, and she was right to do it. I may have had a seizure.
Can that actually be 49 years ago? I remember thinking Sgt. Pepper’s “20 years ago today,” was a lifetime the first time I heard it.
The Beatles were a bridge between my parents/girlfriends and boyfriends to come. Non-threatening. Boyish. Sweet. Funny. Irreverent. Innocent.
Today, all 16 American albums are framed in order, on an 18-foot wall in the main room of my house. The wall is painted the exact orange color of George’s tie on Hey Jude
When I feel myself spinning off, I I listen to all of them, in order, even “Yellow Submarine.” After years as a “White Album” supremacist (meaning my favorite) I had an epiphany last fall. “Revolver” is ineffable, unbearable, overwhelming. “I’m Only Sleeping.” “For No One” “Tomorrow Never Knows.” Wow.
The Beatles are a constant. Not to offend anyone, if I haven’t already, but The Beatles are my Higher Power. They connect me, not just to childhood, but to “places I remember, all my life, though some have changed. Some forever, not for better, some have gone and some remain. Though I know I’ll never lose affection for people and things that went before. I know I’ll always stop and think about them. In my life, I love you more
Come on now, all you depressives out there – get a grip. Rise above it. Treat yourself to “Meet the Beatles.” Because,
With a love like that, you know you should….BE GLAD
Yeah, Yeah, Yeah.
Yeah, Yeah. Yeah.
Yeah Yeah, Yeah YEEAAAHHHH!!
P.S. I Love You