Message to Self

You just never know what'll be waiting for you in your email box each morning. Yesterday I awoke to find a letter from an old friend from my years hanging out with local bands in the Sixties. I've mentioned before that my first boyfriend Sammy was the lead guitarist of one of the most popular bands in our area. At some point around 1968 his friend (or maybe they're cousins, I can't remember) Ponce joined forces to create another very popular band. I sent Ponce a private message in Facebook asking for some information about their bands for an article I'm writing and I awoke to find an email from him containing this picture plus two others.

That's me on the beach at Malibu in 1971. Sammy, Ponce and I went there one afternoon to hangout in the sun a bit. Ponce was a photographer, but I had no idea he'd taken these pictures of me. Or at least I don't remember him doing so...

Ponce at Malibu the same day
Ponce at Malibu the day
the photos were taken.
In his email he explained that he'd recently found his old Nikon stashed away in storage. The film advance had broken right after that day at the beach, so he moved on to a new camera. When he found the old Nikon years later, there was some old and very delicate film in it, so he developed it and this is what he found. I'd show you the other two photos, but they look very much like this one. I just happen to like this one best because it more clearly shows the textures of surf and sand.

For me, the photo is iconic. It captured a spring day in my life when so many confusing things were going on. I was 19, my son Joel was not yet a year old, and I'd been widowed for as long. Viet Nam was still raging, but fortunately both Sammy and Ponce had returned relatively unharmed (Sammy had taken some shrapnel, but his sweet and generous spirit was undaunted). When I wasn't working a split-shift at a factory in Oxnard, and pulling myself out of a nervous breakdown, I was at the apartment that Sammy, Ponce, and their band shared in Santa Monica. They were invaluable where my recovery was concerned. We spent our time listening to music, jamming, grilling, drinking cheap wine and smoking weed, and having a good time. It was just what I needed. Fun.

Me and Sammy that spring
Me and Sammy that weekend.
It didn't last very long. Free spirit that I was, I soon felt the need to move on and try to get back to my music career. Ponce's photograph of me took me back to that place in my life where everything was a crossroads and every decision was monumental, involving not only myself, but my baby son as well.

There would be a whole lot of life stretching out before me. Harder challenges and even harder decisions were on their way. If I could turn that young girl around and speak to her, I'd tell her,
"Don't be afraid. Step out and do what you love. Don't succumb to the guilt that people will try to lay on you. Instead, turn from them, laughing, and walk away. Don't listen to the criticism of others. Be free but be wary, and believe in yourself."