Yesterday, I was doing some touch-up painting in our bathroom while Kami and Luken took turns choosing music to play. At one point, the Beatles’ “Help” came on, and I immediately thought of our dear, longtime neighbors, Will and Katie – who after eight (nine?!!!!) years are moving from across the street to another Portland neighborhood.
It’s not the song “Help” per se that brings this Will-and-Katie association with it – it’s any Beatles song. A couple of years into Will and Katie’s time as neighbors, they learned that our kids had not yet been exposed to the music of the Beatles. (The why of that is another story.) Will in particular took it upon himself to rectify this situation. Whenever we spent time at their house, the Beatles played in the background, Beatles trivia was shared, and in all ways the kids were converted into avid Beatles fans. I don’t think Kami became a drummer because of Ringo, but she certainly has a fondness for him that probably contributed to that decision. Luken went through periods of time where he listened repeatedly to Beatles albums. We have all been brought back from the Dark Side and over to the Beatles Side.
I cannot say enough how much I like it that something as accessible and ubiquitous as Beatles songs brings Will, Katie and their family to my mind. They have been an integral part of making this place feel like a neighborhood, and though I’ll still see them, I will miss their presence here. When they first moved here, Garth and I referred to them between ourselves as the Golden Couple. It wasn’t just their tow-headed children, or long-legged Katie’s flowing hair, or Will’s bright blue eyes and ready smile. It was also their intelligence, creativity, enthusiasm and humor. Could they be more perfect, we wondered affectionately.
Thank god they’re NOT perfect. But I still think they’re pretty golden, and I will miss the warmth of the light they cast on Taylor St. Luckily, there will 214 opportunities for me to turn on the radio or the computer or the CD player and – thanks to John, Paul, George and Ringo – bring some of that feeling up again.
Okay, I took liberties with that quote, which originally comes from the Gus van Sant movie To Die For and actually reads, “You aren’t really anybody in America if you’re not on TV.” It comes to mind because two clients this week have shared stories about something they did last weekend (going kayaking and installing a window air conditioner) that included comments like, “And then we decided to post pictures on Facebook.”
When my family and I were in Hawaii in April, I noticed a creeping self-consciousness after awhile because, simultaneous to taking pictures of some place or event, I would think to myself, If this is a good picture, I’ll put it on our Hawaii blog and this is what I’ll say about it. In other words, I became aware of my slide into leaving the present moment by planning my blog post. My clients, too, were less present for air conditioner installing and kayaking because they allowed themselves to be preoccupied by planning the Facebook posts. I imagine a process something like, While being photographed balancing the air conditioner in the window, the person thinks of the caption that will accompany it: This is me balancing the air conditioner in the window.
I do not mean for this to turn into a rant about Facebook. I believe every generation has its pitfalls, its siren call away from what we are doing right now. But I also believe every generation requires its skeptics, those who say, “I’m not sure it’s a good thing to be so hooked into Facebook (or blog posts) that the planning of the next post occupies one part of our mind while the rest of our mind is shooting the rapids.” That could prove dangerous.
And more than that, if we have had a devastating first relationship and now have a fledgling new relationship, and this new person notices that in the current heat wave, our apartment is brutally hot and goes out to buy a window unit and comes to install it for us because we don’t know how – it seems to me we’d want as much of our brain to be on-board as possible, to notice this moment, this moment where we find evidence that maybe, this time, we’ve found someone who cares about us.