My very first “BFF” and I walking down to the local picture show to see “Jailhouse Rock.” (We were VERY young!)
Learning to dance at her house, listening to “Teddy Bear” and “Return to Sender” and “Good Luck Charm” on the radio.
Subsequent Sunday afternoon trips to the Varsity in the next town because our theater had closed its doors. Cajoling our long-suffering daddies into driving us there to see “Viva Las Vegas” and “Girls, Girls, Girls” and “Blue Hawaii” and all the others.
My daddy’s patience in “driving by Graceland” when we were in Memphis on shopping trips and my mother’s encouragement to do so.
The time we sat outside the fence waiting for a glimpse of Elvis because the gates were closed and that was an indication that he was home and then we were rewarded with the sight of a black-leather-clad someone on a motorcycle riding around in the circle drive, almost coming all the way down to the gate, but not quite. (We chose to believe that was the King himself.)
The time the gate was open and we drove up to the house and my little sister and I jumped out and had our picture made on the front steps before anyone could stop us.
The time one of my friends’ cousins and her sister were invited in by Elvis because he had seen them standing at the gate day after day.
Thinking that Priscilla was the luckiest girl in the whole wide world. Being charmed by Lisa Marie’s arrival. And then some years later, after their split, crying my eyes out when I heard “Don’t Cry, Daddy” or “Lord, This Time You Gave Me a Mountain.”
Learning that my grandmother liked his gospel songs, especially “Peace in the Valley.”
Gluing my eyes to the TV for the “Comeback Special” and once again smiling at his boyish crooked smile and that one strand of hair that always fell across his forehead . . . among other things!
Actually seeing Elvis live on stage in Memphis, Tennessee just a few years before his death, experiencing the electricity of his connection with his fans, feeling “at one” with the energy of “The Trilogy,” and then hearing in person the dreaded, infamous announcement: “Ladies and gentlemen, Elvis has left the building.” And even then, no one wanting to leave. It was unforgettable.
And the shock of hearing the news that Elvis was gone. Just like that.
The sadness and mourning that accompanied his departure.
My husband, who was not a fan, agreeing that we should drive to Memphis the day after the news so that I could be one of the pulse-beats of a city mourning the loss of her adopted son.
Elvis’s death came at a time in my life when I was transitioning from flower-child wannabe to the real world of grown-ups. The next summer I became a mother. I moved on to “taking care of business”: caring for a baby, a beautiful little girl. And once more, how appropriate were Elvis’s words in that magical velvet voice, inimitable in spite of thousands of attempts: “I Can’t Help Falling in Love with You.”
If Elvis were alive today, he would be seventy-five. Even if he were here, however, to me he would always be the handsome young “Hunk-a, Hunk-a Burnin’ Love” that accompanied me on my journey up the steps from little girl to infatuated teen to adoring super-fan to grateful young mother.
Some sort of magic must still be afoot because, with one spin of a 45, I can be transformed into a lighter, younger version of myself — someone who can actually sing along, feel a rhythm and get lost in a moment.
Here’s to you, EP. Thanks for being there.