There were plays performed at the American Club in Dakar, Senegal. I was fortunate to be in one of the plays, it was the musical ” The King And I”. This is about my experience performing in the musical and later watching the musical.

The King And I was written by Rodgers and Hammerstein and is based on the book ” Anna And The King Of Siam”.i tried reading the book. this is one example where the copy is better than the original. From what I remember, the book was different from the musical. Mostly, it was her observations about living in Siam which is now Thailand and just was not that captivating. The plot summary of ” The King And I”is that a British schoolteacher and her son travel to Siam to teach the many children of King Mongkut. The musical and book detail interactions between the schoolteacher, the children of the King, expatriates living in Siam, various people who work for the King and the King. The musical has great songs like ” Getting To Know You”, ” Shall We Dance?”and ” Something Wonderful”. My brother played the son of the schoolteacher, my other brothers played one of the children and a worker unloading ships. I played one of the children and a dog in a play within the musical.

Somewhere in the middle of the musical, a minor character named Tuptim decides to put on a play based on Harriet Beecher Stowe’s ” Uncle Tom’s Cabin”. The dogs are part of Tuptim’s play, I’m. not sure if they are in the book. To play the dog, I had to wear a dog mask that covered my head, there were two small holes where my eyes could see. The play was in the Spring of 1982, the air was hot and humid in Dakar. Underneath the mask, I was feeling the heat. I could not see clearly through holes and was feeling like I was about to faint, I followed the other person playing the dog and we ran where we were supposed to go. When the scenes featuring ” Uncle Tom’s Cabin reached its end, I was able to take off my mask. I felt so relieved . A few months later, my family and I would leave Dakar, Senegal. Looking back, the memory is bittersweet because it was one of the last memories of Dakar.

About a year later when I was living with family in Alameda, California, it was announced that the ” King And I” would be playing its final performances with Yul Brynner in San Fransisco. My parents bought tickets and we attended the performance. It was great seeing the man who made the role famous on stage and in the movie performing songs that I had heard while living in Dakar, Senegal. After the performance, it may have been a Sunday matinee because I remember it was in the afternoon. We waited near the back doors of the theater, hoping to catch a glimpse of Yul Brynner. Unfortunately, we did not see him but we probably saw actors who played the same roles as my brothers and I when we were in ‘ The King And I”. This memory is bittersweet, a few years later Yul Brynner would pass away or die from cancer.

It was a great experience to perform in ” The King And I” and later watch the actor who played the King on Broadway and in the movie. Also, I enjoyed learning about another culture and history from another part of the world. ” The King And I” is one of my favorite musicals, was my introduction to Thailand and has given me some great memories.

Whenever we had to move from one place to another or whenever I would clean my room, I would have to decide to throw away things that have sentimental value. It’s hard to let go of your past when the items you are about to throw away are reminders of where you lived , other than the memories .

When I lived in Dakar, I had a friend from Nigeria who would give me books and brochures about his country, usually after I had politely asked for information. This was in 1980, he gave me a Nigerian Government handbook, a calendar featuring the various rulers of Nigeria, and a brochure about Olumo Rock which is a sacred site and tourist destination in Nigeria. For years, I kept these items. But after various moves, the calendar and handbook were discarded . The latter was by mistake, I thought I put the item in the ” keep” pile. It’s always hard to let go of items that might not seem that important but these items are my connection to my friend. If I lose all the items, I might lose my visible connection to my friend. Luckily, I still have the Olumo Rock brochure, Hope it survives the next round of downsizing,

Some items are discarded by accident or on purpose. Every so often , when I clean my home, I might throw away something I should have kept, the first draft of a poem or essay and earlier examples of my writing. When I was younger, I used to think that what I wrote was not that good. When looking at the earliest examples of my writing I have kept, I am surprised by my mature and wise observations in my lyrics and poems. Sometimes, the writer is his or her worst critic. Other items I have thrown away or let go are brochures from places I have visited and letters from friends. I am always afraid if I throw away a brochure, I will have no proof that I visited the area or will have nothing to spark my memory. I have a fear that I will forget everything. This is why I keep things from the past so I will remember. There are items that I discard on purpose, books that I did not enjoy or letters from friends who have now become strangers. Sometimes, people you think are important become less important as you become older . The hardest thing to do is to let go of those items or memories, the process of downsizing one’s life.

Whenever it is time to move or declutter, this is when one has to decide what to keep or throw away. What might seem insignificant to some is significant to others. The one doing the cleaning or clearing can think he or she has made progress by getting rid of items, then wondering later if he or she made the right decision. It’s always hard letting go of the past when you decide to downsize your life.

Back in 1989, I was hanging out at a record shop in Norfolk, Virginia. Someone at the record shop was playing a tape by a new local band called Buzzard. What I heard inspired me to do an.interview with the band and introduced me to different styles of music.

Since I was too young to attend shows at the King’s Head Inn, someone in the band invited me to their practice space that was located off of Hampton Boulevard. My Mom dropped me off and I knocked on the door. The door opened and I was introduced to a man with dreadlocks and a beard , his name was Patrick Walsh . He played guitar, the other members were Barry Wade on drums and Dave Matthaidess on bass guitar. Their music was instrumental hard rock, a mixture of Black Sabbath, 1970’s Rush and jazz fusion. Patrick was kind to go to the local convenience store and buy me a Dr, Pepper so I could have something to drink while I watched the band practice their set list that was on a sheet of paper tacked to the wall of the rehearsal space, They played fifteen songs. Some of the instrumentals had intriguing titles like ” Agamemnon”: ” Creepy Dude”, ” Fruit Of The Void” and ” Rose Petal” . After they finished playing all of the songs in the set list, I did an interview with the band and wrote down everything so I would not forget what they said. Before I left, Patrick gave me a Buzzard flyer which was promoting their first show at King’s Head Inn with Gutterbeat. This flyer is now framed. Barry, the drummer who has since passed away, drove me back to my home where I would finish writing the article about the band and turn what I had completed to the Maury News.

This began my friendship with Patrick Walsh. We would talk about music. In April, 1990, the Buzzard interview was published and I sent him a copy. He enjoyed my article, said my description of the band was accurate. He promised me to send me a tape with the fifteen songs that I heard at practice . Right before I left for Okinawa in June of 1990, I received the Buzzard tape in the mail. At about this time, Barry Wade left the band and was replaced by Joey Rudacil. While I lived on Okinawa, I would play the Buzzard tape and have the songs memorized, It became one of my favorite recordings. This was before the Internet, I had no idea what happened to the band. I assumed they were still practicing and playing in someone’s garage, I did not know it at the time, I was correct. When my Dad retired and I moved with my family to South Carolina, I purchased a computer and connected to the Internet. I decided to reconnect with Patrick and find out what happened to Buzzard. I was in for a pleasant surprise. The band had recorded an album called ” Churp!” which was released in Europe. One of the songs on the tape , ” Creepy Dude”, which I liked and mentioned in my article made it onto the album as ” Escape From The Island Of Misfit Toys”, Years later, I would watch a YouTube video where they played this instrumental in a garage somewhere in Norfolk. I ordered ” Churp!” from the same record shop where I originally heard the tape. It was half vocal and half instrumental, I enjoyed the album, especially the instrumentals. During this time in 1998, I had just moved into my first home and was looking for guidance- Patrick was there to listen and give me advice, he introduced me to several artists I had never heard such as U Totem, Confessor, and Arti E Mesteri.

Years flew by and we were still exchanging emails about music. In 1998, Buzzard had a different lineup. Kevin Anderson was playing bass guitar and Mark Henry was playing drums. They had released an album with a very long title and were playing shows. I asked what happened to Joey Rudacil. Patrick told me had had formed a new band called Crab Nebula. I found some samples of Crab Nebula’s music, originally they were an aggressive hard rock band but became a very good jazz fusion band. I found Joey on the Internet and we became friends. He would send me demos and live recordings of Crab Nebula. He would also send me flyers of upcoming shows featuring his band that he designed. Crab Nebula would dissolve and Joey would play in other bands. Years later when I lived in Greenville, Joey sent me a recording of his most recent band called. The Kill Circuit. He was still amazing on drums. He passed away in 2017 but I will remember his kindness and his creative talents. Back to Buzzard and Patrick Walsh,I would visit Patrick Walsh and the other members of Buzzard when I attended my ten year class reunion at Maury High School in Norfolk, Virginia. I watched the band practice and they gave me a copy of their newest release which was one seventeen minute song divided into many parts. Some of the parts I had heard when Patrick would send me samples of their latest music. Two years later, I returned to Norfolk, I met up with Patrick . We had a great conversation about music. He surprised me with a great gift. He made me copies of various obscure Italian progressive rock albums and gave me an album by a band from Maryland called The Muffins. I still enjoy and listen to these albums. Buzzard would play a few more shows between 2000 and 2018. The rhythm section would form a new band called That Which Sleeps. Today, I am still friends with some of the members of Buzzard.

Nestled in an abandoned space between a motorcycle shop and an infamous strip joint was a band called Buzzard who would influence my musical tastes and introduce people who would become friends. Sometimes, if you take the time to listen, you might be rewarded.

A blonde haired woman in her twenties picks me up at my house to take me to Baton Rouge in the summer of 1987. Could be the beginning of a missing person’s story or a summer movie. Thankfully, she drove me to the teenage statewide Republican convention that lasted for a week. This is a recollection of that time

She had to be nervous, driving someone she did not know for almost 100 miles on Interstate 12. The convention was held at either the Red Carpet Inn or Red Roof Inn, There had to be over a hundred teenagers, black and white. Since this was my first time away from home, I remember feeling very anxious and nervous. I was not sure what was going to happen. During the day, we would canvass Baton Rouge neighborhoods to encourage support for Republican candidates. At night, we would go to the teenage dance club and listen to a new song by Will To Power “Dreamin” and songs by a then unknown group called Expose who had a song called ” Point Of No Return”. Those Republicans, including me, knew how to have a good time. We toured the state capitol in Baton Rouge and watched the Senate and House of Representatives do business. One of the other older adult chaperones had a house in Denham Springs where we would go have dinner outside. We were able to be in a photo with the then Representative Bob Livingston, never received my photo. On the bright side, I have great memories of my time there, even if it took me awhile to be comfortable,

On the drive home, Nancy would play a tape by a band called T’Pau who had a big bit that summer with a song called ” Heart And Soul”. I am very grateful and thankful that she drove me to the convention and back home. . She was very kind and made sure that I was comfortable. Also, she looked after me and made sure that I would be safe and out of trouble. While at the convention, we would run errands and have great conversations. When I returned to Mandeville High School in September, nobody believed me when I told them what I did over the summer. Oh, what a bummer! Years later, we reconnected through the internet when I lived in Beaufort. Sometime later while living in Greenville, we reconnected on Facebook. She knew I liked music and sent me some records by a New Orleans band called The Cold. I must not have been that bad of a traveling companion.

The summer of 1987 was filled with taking chances and meeting new people, starting a friendship that exists today. Though I was anxious, cautious and nervous, the people around me made me feel comfortable so I was able to have some great memories and a story that I would write. Sometimes, getting into a car with a stranger can be the beginning of a great adventure with a positive outcome.

Sometime in 1988, while attending Maury High School, I travelled with the staff of Maury News which was the school newspaper for a journalism convention held in Washington, D..C.. I had some great experiences and was introduced to an author whose book is the title of this essay.

This was the second time that I had been away from home for a long period of time. The first time was when I lived in Louisiana. This time was better. I knew the people who would share a room and spend time with me. Also, they liked me. Attendees would spend most of their time at the convention going to meetings to learn how to be better journalists. After the meetings and at the end of the day, some of us would hang out in our room and listen to the second Led Zeppelin album at a very high volume, This is where I learned how to ramble on various topics, pun intended. We spent time sightseeing around Washington, looking at the famous landmarks. On one of our sightseeing walks, we visited a bookstore and I bought a book by Parke Godwin called ” A Truce With Time”. The cover and the blurb which sums up the book on the back caught my attention. The story is about a writer named Pat who is in the middle of writing a new book. He is not very good at relationships and is haunted by voices of his family who give him advice. Pat meets a woman named Lauren who does video art and most of the book is about their relationship and reconciling or making peace with his family- hence the title” A Truce With Time”. I was not familiar with Parke Godwin’s work before reading this book. Later I learned, this was a departure from most of his previous and later works, He wrote mostly fantasy and science fiction. Most critics and fans of his work did not like this book because it was something different. This book kept my interest because it was about the business of writing, coming up with ideas and trying to meet deadlines while trying to make or keep friendships.

Back to the convention, something happened that made a great impression or memory. There was a dance held for the high school journalists. I had an enjoyable time meeting people from different parts of the United States. I had a slow dance with someone from Baltimore, years later I can still remember the song that was playing, it was ” I’ve Been In Love Before” by Cutting Crew. Thankfully, it was not ” I Just Died In Your Arms”! When we returned to Maury High School, my journalism classmates asked me about her . They saw us dancing and wanted to know what happened. After the dance, the person from Baltimore and I had an enjoyable conversation about where we lived and what was happening in our lives. We exchanged addresses, this was before the Internet. I sent her a letter , never heard back from her but I have a great memory and story. The next year, our journalism class did not attend the convention. I am grateful and thankful for being able to attend the convention.

Years later, I still remember my friends and experiences from when I attended the convention in 1988. I learned how to be a better writer by reading great writing and how to have good relationships with classmates. Occasionally, I wonder what happened to the person in Baltimore. Hope she is doing well. One day, she might read this essay and she might remember me. The great thing about looking back is you can always return to where you are today. I have made my truce with time, do not always live in the past, happy where I am now.

She breaks the heart of those who lend their love.

She loves to spend money from those who give.

The fools never learn and wise walk away.

The rich become poor when she takes their pride

The pain never goes away, dream is gone,

now there is nothing new under the sun.

He was the one,, Prince Charming, vows exchanged.

Time moves forward, something changed within him.

Love walked out and emptiness took its place.

Nothing more to say, here comes loneliness.

The pain never goes away, dream is gone,

now there is nothing new under the sun.

It’s better to give up and never try.

There is irony in what they perceive.

The vain will see the vanity of the world

when the world takes their vanity away.

The pain never goes away, dream is gone,

now there is nothing new under the sun.

First comes love at first sight, then the tension.

Nothing more to prove, nothing more to give,

they fight to gain the other’s attention.

When war is over, someone has to pay.

The pain never goes away, dream is gone,

now there is nothing new under the sun.

While browsing in a record store in Norfolk, Virginia- I picked up a hard rock magazine and turned to the pen pal section in the back. This began a correspondence and friendship that lasted for twelve years. Her description seemed intriguing and respectable , I wrote her a letter and sent it to her address in Scotland. I was not expecting a response. To my surprise, a few months later, she wrote a reply to my letter. She was studying Economics at the University of Edinburgh in Scotland. She was impressed by the number of places that I lived. We had similar tastes in music. When I moved to Okinawa in 1990, I kept her letter so I could remember her address. I had written her a few times and not heard back. This could have been the end of the story.

While living in Okinawa, I spent most of my time when I was not studying or working, listening to music. Before downloading and streaming music on your computer, one had to order albums through the mail that were not available in stores. These were obscure releases I would order from Subterranean mail order that was based in San Fransisco. and Sub Pop Records from Seattle. Due to being overseas, my family and I did not have a mailbox at our house. We had a post office box where letters and packages were delivered. My tastes were eclectic, I would purchase albums by Present, Univers Zero, Clawhammer , The Dwarves , Nirvana , and Mudhoney. At the same time, I was a fan of Marillion and was a member of their fan club, I would receive issues of their magazine. A few months after I arrived in Okinawa, I received another letter from my pen pal in Scotland. She had not forgotten about me.

We began to know more about each other. She was a big fan of a band called Thunder who sounded like Paul Rodgers from Free or Bad Company mixed with The Faces. She introduced me to Kings X and Queensryche. I made her a tape of some bands that I liked ( Buzzard and Ugly Americans). Surprisingly, she liked the bands. In September of 1991, Marillion released their new album ” Holidays In Eden”. Being a fan of this band, I wanted to hear this album. This was before I had a compact disc player and I could not find this release at the store on base. In one of my letters, I mentioned that I was looking for this album. A few weeks or a month later, a package arrived for me from her. Inside was the ” Holidays in Eden” cassette. This was very thoughtful and a great present, I still enjoy listening to this album. What makes it more enjoyable and personable is someone remembered what I wrote. She purchased and mailed me a thoughtful and cherished gift. I still have this cassette. One of the songs from the album, ” Waiting To Happen” , reminds me of her – especially the lines ” We talked about our faces, you said you didn’t like yours, I said, “I disagree”.

Times change and people drift apart. After 1993, I did not hear from her and was busy with my life back in the United States. My Dad retired from the military and we were living in Beaufort, South Carolina. A few years later, I bought my first home and was enjoying being on my own. I purchased a computer and was connected to the Internet . Having lived in many places, I was eager to reconnect with people from my past. One of the people I thought about was my pen pal from Scotland, because of her friendship and kindness towards me, I kept the letters. The last letter I received from her when I was living in Okinawa,, she was attending the University Of Kent in England. Browsing the Internet, I found the University Of Kent alumni website. I sent a message to the website and and asked if anyone knew how and where I could contact my pen pal. Several days later, we reconnected, I received a friendly message from my pen pal. She was glad to hear from me and we told each other what we had been doing. This could have been the end of the story. In 2001, my brother had a girlfriend who was living and working in London, England. She became his wife. My brother wanted us to visit him and his girlfriend for Christmas. When I reconnected with my pen pal, she was working in London. I sent her a message and explained that I would be traveling to London to visit my brother and his girlfriend. Would it be possible for us to meet? Her response was to call her when I arrived. After arriving in London, I gave her a call . She left a message on my brother’s girlfriend’s phone which I used. We were going to meet at the Angel train station in Islington which is a neighborhood in London. To be safe, I brought my brother and his girlfriend with me, if I felt uncomfortable, I had an exit strategy. I could say that we had to go somewhere else . Also, I had witnesses. Fortunately, we had a great time. We had a great conversation at a coffee shop called Tinderbox. She bought coffee for us. It was a great early Christmas present to be able to see her and know she is a real person, Also, it was great to know that in a city of over a million people, someone knew me.