Ray Sawyer died this year. How fitting on this, the year of my Lucy Jordan birthday. I'm still 17 days away, but it is coming.
For those of you who have never heard "The Ballad of Lucy Jordan," this post probably will not make sense, but I will include a link for your listening pleasure.
My Lucy Jordan birthday has been a milestone for 20 years now.
It all stems from a night in 1999. I was 17. Friends and I had gone to one of their family cabins at Princeton Pond for a night of debauchery. When we arrived, his parents were there and his dad was half cut, strumming away on a guitar.
As the night progressed we headed to a bonfire away from the cabin, spent a night with friends that culminated in the usual night for me in my abusive relationship where I was, to spare you details, dragged through a gravel pit. We went back to the cabin.
The girls and I sat at a picnic table outside the cabin as I licked my wounds. All of a sudden, Gord started slowly strumming and singing "The Ballad of Lucy Jordan." I was no stranger to Dr. Hook. I adored Ray Sawyer.
Sipping on a bit too much Smirnoff, I stood on the picnic table seat and exclaimed to Krista, Kirsten and Crystal, "When I'm 37 I will not be a Lucy Jordan!"
And we sang.
"At the age of 37 she realized she'd never ride through Paris, in a sports car, with the warm wind in her hair..."
In 2002 I stood in a field with the rain pissing down, the crowd sparse because of weather, as Ray Sawyer belted out Lucy Jordan's plight in front of me at Salmon Festival. I remember leaning over and whispering to my friend Eugene, "I'm not going to be Lucy Jordan." He just kind of looked at me funny.
And here I am, 37 approaching, and the song I've held dear has taught me lessons on the passage of time, how quickly 20 years fly by, and how naive we are at 17 when our minds have grandeur ideas of how our lives will be when we leave our little towns for something bigger.
While I am not the protagonist in Lucy Jordan's suburban housewife life, no husband to go off to work or kids to go off to school, 36 was a hard year for me. I questioned myself personally and professionally, and maybe came a bit too close to figuratively being "on the rooftop where she'd climbed when all the laughter grew too loud."*
*There is still debate whether or not she jumped or if she was carried away. Either/or.
But, like Lucy, I had not made it to Paris. I likely never will. Paris stands for so much here, and I think that is the biggest lesson. Where we see ourselves at 37, when we are 17 and our eyes are dinner plates looking into the future, is often a much different reality when compared to what 37 really is.
Where did 20 years go?
A shoutout to my coworker here who I shared this with and who brought me a keychain from Paris last year. Rol, you're a doll, and you get it.
My upcoming Lucy Jordan birthday has made me reflect on how we prioritize progress and goals in life.
How important getting to Paris was to that little girl.
Paris is just a place.
How close and attainable Paris seems when you are 17 at Princeton Pond with your whole life ahead of you.
My Lucy Jordan birthday comes in 17 days. For those of you who have read here for a while you know I have never really done well with birthdays. I reflect a bit too much and I overthink the losses instead of the gains.
This year has started out positively, and I am hopeful; I am probably feeling better than I have for as long as I can remember. I have such amazing people in my life. You are all my Paris.
Maybe this year, on that day, I will reflect on it as one where "she let that phone keep ringin' as she sat there softly singin' pretty nursery rhymes she'd memorised in her daddy's easy chair."
All I know is that time moves fast; 20 years pass by like 20 days, and I can so vividly remember that night in Princeton Pond and how hopeful my 17 year old self felt that by 37 I would be invincible.
I don't know about that anymore. I feel pretty mortal.
But at 37 I know I will conquer and I will make inroads to continuing to carve out my place in this messy life and world.
And maybe it will be done "with the warm wind in her hair." For Lucy.
Have a listen: https://youtu.be/FDS2hSmokQ0
And Dr. Hook > Marianne Faithfull.