GALVESTON DAILY NEWS: I marvel at how indelibly I recollect certain images and sentiments from my high school and college days. The most poignant usually channel the optimism I felt about the future. Though later buffeted by reality, their clarity still resonates.
The speed and intensity with which they come flashing back is a blessing and a curse. A line from a song, or a whiff of a special perfume, can produce a smile or a tear.
I think it’s because back then each day held the promise of something new. Sometimes good, sometimes not so good, but all things were possible. I liked that feeling.
For me, the recollections are often delivered by a song. One such is Paul Simon’s tune, “For Emily, Whenever I May Find Her.” In his 1968 TV appearance on Kraft Music Hall, Simon explained that his song wasn’t about an imaginary girl named Emily, but rather the belief that she, in fact, existed and somewhere, someday you would find her.
I believed him. There was always a chance that tomorrow I would find Emily.
On a summer trip a year later, I recall touring London with other college students. After doubling back to find me several times, our guide remarked that I seemed always to be drifting away from the group. I remember wanting to be alone so that, even in this faraway land, I might cross paths with her.
One stanza of Simon’s song always reminds me of that day: “I wandered empty streets, down past the shop displays, I heard cathedral bells, tripping down the alleyways, as I walked on.”
A half-century later, I seem to still be on the same walk. But now, when I feel sad about today’s prospects, I recall Simon’s next verse: “And when you ran to me, your cheeks flushed with the night, we walked on frosted fields of juniper and lamplight, I held your hand.”
For everyone, there is always an Emily waiting.
Listen and remember:
Malcolm D. Gibson
All rights reserved