by Lourdes A. Gautier
As I looked forward to getting out of high school
The words of LBJ’s “Great Society” state of the union address scarcely made an impact.
Vaguely aware of Dr. King and the Selma to Montgomery march and Malcom X’s assassination
all I could hear looping in my brain was the Righteous Brothers singing “You’ve Lost that Loving Feeling.”
The soundtrack of my seventeenth year would be all about Smokey Robinson’s “What’s So Good About Goodbye” and “Tracks of My Tears” along with the Supremes’ “Stop in the Name of Love.”
These songs would punctuate the on again off again relationship with a fiancé I had no business having.
I spent the summer riding the subway to Coney Island.
There was an elevated portion of the trip that passed a waterway and I could sing “Unchained Melody” or “Ebb Tide” in my head or softly under breath along with the Righteous Brothers.
I alternated between following Bobby Hatfield’s high register and Bill Medley’s baritone.
Sometimes the train would be almost empty of other passengers.
Sometimes my mom was sitting next to me but I pretended to be alone.
Every time the seagulls appeared as the opening notes to “Ebb Tide” played in my brain.
I couldn’t get too excited about the space flights that summer.
My love life was in shambles so Berkeley’s anti-war teach-in and politics were on hold.
Almost oblivious to the race riots in Watts and the enactment of the Voting Rights Act
I strolled onto campus in September as a wide eyed, politically naive freshman.
One of a handful of students of color, I quickly got baptized into the political left.
I listened to the words of Otis Redding’s “A Change Gonna Come” and anything by Dylan.
Agreed with the Stones that I couldn’t get any “Satisfaction” either but time wasn’t on my side.
The year and my first semester at college was coming to an end.
I began to notice the young men in my classes, shy glances were exchanged during lectures
but I couldn’t stop holding onto the past, didn’t know how to move forward.
The first modern day emergency came in the way of the great northeast blackout.
My new musical choices included the Beatles, the Animals, The Stones and Dusty Springfield.
By year’s end the mini skirt was in fashion and health warnings were printed on cigarette packs.
A bunch of new beginnings was on the horizon.
AUTHOR’S PHOTO CAPTION: My high school yearbook photo. Me at seventeen.
ABOUT THE AUTHOR: Lourdes A. Gautier is a poet and writer of short fiction and nonfiction. Born in Santo Domingo, Dominican Republic, and raised in New York City she earned a Masters degree in Theatre and post graduate credits in a doctoral program at the City University of New York (CUNY) focusing on Latin American Theatre. She’s taught courses in acting and theatre history and criticism at CUNY, Drew University, and Jersey City State University and language arts in a special grant funded program at Rutgers University. Her short story, “1952,” was published in Acentos Review. Her poems have appeared in Calliope and in the Silver Birch Press “All About My Name,” “My Perfect Vacation,” and “My Metamorphosis”series. She is also a contributor to the award winning anthology These Winter Months: The Late Orphan Project. She has performed at the Inwood Local open mic night in New York City. Currently an administrator at Columbia University, she continues to work on a collection of poems and stories.