Autobiography of a Yoga Practice
Unforgettable, that’s what you are.
BY MAGAZINE COLUMNIST CHRISTOPHER CLOUGH
An indelible childhood experience evoked anew by an indomitable soul who changed her life well after some would have said “too late.”
Dear readers, this is more a story than a column, but I wanted to
share this moment with you in the spirit of “joy shared is doubled”. I
hope you enjoy it. CC
I live in Provincetown for many, many reasons.
The sun rising and setting over the ocean (one of the only places in the country where it does that!), the art and music in the galleries and the streets, the theater. Mostly, though, I love Provincetown for it’s “lively bohemian atmosphere”.
Years ago, on my first trip to Cape Cod, my mother and I stopped at a tourist information center where I picked up a guide to Provincetown. We were planning to make a day trip and I wanted to be prepared.
Virgo tendencies start early.
The phrase that made us laugh, for years actually, was when the guidebook said that Provincetown is known for it’s “lively bohemian atmosphere.”
I became my mother’s “lively bohemian” son.
We would see a well-groomed man on the street with a “sparkle” in his walk and my mother would turn to me and ask if I thought he might be one of us “lively bohemians.”
This past Tuesday night, I watched one of our tribe conjure magic from a little red wagon, a microphone and an “Unforgettable” song.
Provincetown is poud to bring you: Ellie.
If you’ve been to Provincetown any time in the last ten years or so you probably know Ellie. She is 78 this year, and is marking her tenth year as Ellie, after 68 years as a man, father, grandfather and husband. These days, she wears short skirts, long blond hair, and she sings.
Ellie sings songs that we all know. Songs originally sung by Frank and Dean, Sammy and Tony. She croons, and (pardon the rhyme) we swoon.
With a voice that harkens back in time, Ellie sings “New York, New York” and “Moon River”, interspersing greetings to the tourists, and reminders to “come back soon” and “have a wonderful time”. I think of her as our unofficial hostess, and find it hard to imagine Provincetown without her.
This past Tuesday, in addition to song, Ellie added magic to her repetoire.
I had been in a funk all day.
The kind of funk that stuck to me like pine tar no matter what I tried.
I ate, I kvetched, I went for a bike ride, but I was still stuck.
Money worry (my meanest personal demon) had me down for the count. In a last ditch attempt to climb out of the pity pile, I accepted an offer to walk with two friends down to Spiritus for a decaf coffee and a chat. As we sat, we heard the strains of a song moving toward us, and my friend Ken said “Ellie.”
Sure enough, it was Ellie, pulling her little red wagon with her battery operated sound system.
I was intrigued as to how the mostly straight, mostly young crowd would respond when she pulled up in front of the brick patio at Spiritus. I got my answer when the first strains of “New York, New York” were met with cheers. The young people formed a kick-line, with Ellie at the center, and as the song ended the whole crowd erupted in to applause.
Old, young, gay, straight.
What happened next will probably stay with me forever, and filled my heart so full that tears of joy spilled down my cheeks.
Ellie began to sing “Unforgettable” and on the steps of a pizza place, at 9:30 on a Tuesday evening, couples began to dance. Old, young, gay, straight. Many with tear stained cheeks, probably as surprised as me to be crying. Smiling and crying, and laughing at this “lively bohemian” moment.
All of this made possible by a man, who ten years ago said “this is not who I am” and made the courageous, joyous, amazing decision to live, full out, as Ellie.
Suddenly petty worries seemed as distant as the almost full moon, and I was reminded of the power of music, magic, and love.
Thank you Ellie.
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© 2011, The Magazine of Yoga, LLC.