Wednesday, June 4, 2014

A remarkable, memorable, memorial day in NYC.

Sometimes, things just simply fall into place. 
Naomi is sad as Rachel and I go for a bike ride
Rachel, Steve, Mary (from Madison), and I set out from Mendham bright and early last Sunday to visit NYC.  John stayed behind to herd Jack and Naomi to the local beach, and survived to tell about it. 

The weather was perfect, sunny, short-sleeved, dry, breezy.

I had proposed two activities:  the 911 Memorial Museum and Beautiful: The Carole King Story with multiple Tony nominations.  It seemed like a good pairing of memorial then musical … in that sequence.

We began at the Memorial.  In the plaza, you can ponder the deep footprints of the twin towers resurrected as two endless waterfalls with the etched names of each individual.  We

descended into the subterranean expanse that lies beneath the waterfalls and houses massive steel skeletons, twisted, bent and fused by the impact and inferno alongside the slurry wall as a studded fortress.  It was Armageddon realized with pictures of fire and smoke, entwined metal,
looped footage of the crash, animated maps and timeline tracking each minute of the four hijacked planes.    

And it was so personal, as each was honored in a memorial photo gallery, on the wall, shown in a continuous projection with brief bio and narrative, and available by interactive computer.  There were the last cell phone calls from those aboard flight UA 93 to their loved ones.  There were many mundane personal items emblazoned with meaning.  Unlike other memorials, 911 conveyed the ever exponential impact of the loss of each of these innocents.  We all welled up.  The tragedy.  The senselessness.  The indelible impact.

We emerged to sunshine and relief.

Carole King was of Our Time.  We cherished her album Tapestry, the best selling album for a woman, ever.  She had so many hits ‘So Far Away’, ‘Will You Love Me Tomorrow’.  She and Teri both went to Queens College.  And, even more personal, Teri met Carole when she did a fund raiser for John Kerry at Mary and Steve’s house in Madison in 2004.  Then, Carole said ‘shall we sing’ and sang three songs on the piano for all there.  I remember Teri was singing when she returned with her signed album.  Coincidence!

On the main floor at the Sondheim Theater, Rachel turned to the woman seated next to her, eyes aglow, and said aren’t you Sandra?  Sandra, a neighbor who lives 3 doors down the hall in our Milwaukee condo building, was there celebrating her birthday with her daughter!  Same long-distance city, same show, same day, same time, same row, adjacent seats … 6 degrees of connection! 

The overture of familiar Carole King medleys started.  The catchy love tunes set against a 60’s backdrop recreated the excitement of writing a hit tune that just might ‘go to the top #1’.  Humor and drama captured Carole’s precocious na├»vete, her creative musicality, and growth from songwriter for others to reluctant performer of her own.  It resonated with our imbedded recollections of ‘Some Kind of Wonderful’ ‘Up on the Roof’ ‘On Broadway’ ‘One Fine Day’ ‘It’s Too Late Baby’ ‘(You Make Me Feel Like) A Natural Woman’ … and ‘Beautiful’. 

Then it happened.  She sang (as did my idol James Taylor) our wedding song ‘You’ve Got A Friend’.  My chest started heaving.  The morning memorial laden with so many lost souls and encased memories of Teri overflowed together, rivulets running down my lien.  Rachel spontaneously grabbed my hand and held it tight.  Steve, then Mary, grabbed my other hand, and I held on.  It was softly painful, evocative, deeply cleansing.  Teri is so missed … yet she was there, we all agreed.  And she would just love Beautiful, the musical buff that she was, the wedding song I sang to her, Carole’s songs in Mary and Steve’s home, and of
Steve and Mary - Beautiful couple
all places in her home town.  A torrent of memories gushed at that moment … comforted by family, by best friends, and by Teri’s presence. 

It was the best, nearly … perfect day.

Jake Epstein - lead male - same shirt above