Updated: Apr 1, 2021
We were put together by a committee. They wanted us to write an original song using Mike’s music and my words for an interfaith, international peace day gathering in St. Louis. I’d written books and one-woman shows, but I’d never written song lyrics before, and I didn’t know Mike. But the idea of writing a song about creating peace in the world appealed to me. The day of the event, hundreds of people showed up. As a closing to the gathering, my lyrics were projected on a giant screen and audience members were invited to sing along with the band. The song was such a hit that Mike and I decided to keep working together. We created other performances, including an original full-length musical that was nominated for a regional Emmy when a cutting of it was shown on tv. We toured together nationally. Soon our relationshp turned into a hot and heavy romance, and Mike moved in with me.
But there were warning signs of trouble ahead. I liked early mornings, and he revved up with late-night hours in smoke-filled bars where he sang. He didn’t fit in with my friends, who were older than he was. We came from totally different backgrounds. He wanted me to write lyrics for rock and roll songs for him to perform. I wanted to work on plays and books as I had done before we met. But we had had such a good thing for such a long time I wasn’t willing to let our relationship go.
I couldn’t wait to get Mike to Mexico. The sun, the sea, and the perfect setting for creativity would jump-start our sputtering romance. When he arrived he had a headache. I suggested a nap while I got dinner ready. I thought he had fallen asleep when I heard him let out a yell, and hurried upstairs. He was sitting on the bed looking terrified, pointing at the wall demanding, “Kill that thing!”
I had to laugh. It was black, four inches long, clinging to the white stucco wall. “It’s just a scorpion.” I grabbed his shoe and slammed it against the wall until the scorpion was dead. “Just shake out your shoes and your pants before you put them back on and you’ll be o.k..” That night after the sun went down, Mike realized how dark it was outside with no other houses or buildings or cars around us. The waves slapped against the shore as a storm was brewing, and he couldn’t relax.
In the morning he was feeling better. We decided to take a 45 minute ferry ride to Isla Mejeres, an island across the bay. I loved feeling the wind and the surf off the ocean as the ferry slapped along. As soon as we landed, we found a small cafe near the pier, a restaurant owned by locals offering a hand-written menu with simple selections. I felt almost deleriously happy. Mike smiled more and seemed less nervous. We ordered, and our food came too quickly. I wanted to stretch out the time. As I savored my grilled pulpo I looked at Mike and realized he was eating the lettuce, cheese and tomato salad that came with his meal. “Stop!” I called out. “You can’t eat anything raw here!” But the warning was too late. Luckily he didn’t get sick until later that evening after we were off the ferry, but when he did, it was a whopper. He couldn’t stop rocking and shivering, and the fever lasted until the day before he had to leave. That last night he sang one of our songs for Luis Felipe and Molly, and they were so impressed they asked him to sing it again and again. But Mike could never see what it was I loved so much about Mexico, what about it felt right to me. After that trip, it didn’t take long for the two of us to go our separate ways.
Not everything can be made right by a song and a wish.