Sunday, June 06, 2004

This is my 200th entry on Anne...straight from the hip. Normally, I wouldn't keep track, but Blogger's new layout lists the number of entries right beside your blog, and the number 199 just stuck right out. So, here it is, number 200. May I do it justice.

On Thursday, I made a trip out of the office to the local coffee shop in Fells Point. It was an overcast, warm blanket kind of day. A caressing wind stirred the air and I was driving slowly, looking for a parking place on cobblestone streets that knew horses hooves way before they knew tires. On my right was the water, and my left, the colorful array of stores that line Thames Street. The street is wide enough that it allows for vertical parking on both sides, but finding a place is still near impossible. So I rolled slowly, finally inventing a space at a corner. And that's when the song came on, bringing back a memory of hearing it for the first time. I had leaned forward to turn off the ignition and get out of my car, but once the first few notes started, and Mick Jagger's haunting, almost taunting voice floated over the guitar chords, I sat back and let it play.

I was thirteen years old at the time, lying in bed at home in a quiet suburban development in Kansas. The song had long been released, but this was my first time hearing it. I was a captive audience. My window was open, breathing the cold breath of a fall night over my cheek and hands. All was quiet except for my radio, and I was huddled under several comforters. However, it wasn't the wind that was giving me chills.

That song, one that introduced me to the possibility of a more mature, unpredictable, and mysterious world was Gimme Shelter. It drew me in, the deep bass seducing me as it sank into my skin and churned below the belt. In its spooky way, it told me that there was an edge to walk on were I willing to take the chance. A world way beyond anything I knew. An unfamiliar, and yes, sexy world where adults mingled and danger lurked in the air. My body was still as I laid on my stomach, but my eyes were concentrated on a corner of my room far past the walls, the quiet streets, beyond my neighborhood and city limits, across states and into the streets of the cities, the darkened maroon lights of night clubs, being not just one, but one of many awake in the wee hours of the morning. The solace of walking the concrete streets at night and yes, the men out there who lacked inhibition. Their clothes, hair, and feeling the heat of their skin against mine. Traveled, storied lives that would never cross my path in Kansas, nor of those whose mothers dropped them off at school in their station wagons. The world that Mick Jagger sang about was one where I could be unprotected, unguided and unapologetic.

Without shelter.

it's just a shot away,
it's just a shot away

At that age, the boys I knew were mostly immature and obnoxious. Even then, I knew that few were going to leave their hometown. But through the radio I was hearing the sexually charged lament of men with experience. A lot of experience. Not boys, but men who had walked the walk and not just talked the talk, but knew when to be silent and let the moment be what it was. Just like I was doing in that darkened room. So far, from being thirteen. So much to look forward to.

For some reason, hearing the song in my car that day brought back that memory as if it had happened yesterday. Perhaps I was feeling contemplative, or because I'm feeling myself on that cusp again of discovering an entirely new world. One where I have room to expand, breathe, walk the walk, and dive deeper. So, I didn't fight it. Like I had back then, I stopped, let my eyes relax into soft focus and let it in. People walked past my car, but I didn't see them. I was that young girl again on the cusp of her teenage years, being awakened to a different state of being, swimming in the shallow end and wanting to go deeper. As I sank into my seat, I remembered lying there in bed alone so riveted, so far away from Kansas as Mick Jagger sang about needing shelter.

And how I realized that shelter was the very thing that I needed shelter from.

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