When I was a kid, my mom had this really annoying habit of getting us kids in the car for road trips and driving forever while blasting The Three Tenors. I know that my brothers are going to give me grief for making this public, but we were probably the only kids in the world who have ever sang along to Placido Domingo and actually liked it.
We lived a life of “total immersion in things mama liked.” By the time I was 13, I had seen every James Bond movie that came before Pierce Brosnan and already knew all the lyrics (complete with choreography) to “Greased Lightning“. It was a magical time that if at the time seemed torturous, it is probably the reason why today we are fairly well-rounded.
It was the best of times, it was the worse of times.
This morning I found out that Whitney Houston passed away.
I hadn’t listened to a Whitney Houston song on purpose since I was in my teens but it seemed appropriate to make a Whitney Houston playlist on Spotify and listen to it. As I sang along, I was brought back to the day when my mother first bought that CD.
It was a cold winter day in NJ, and for some reason it was just my mom and me that day. I was 12 years old and when she picked me up at school she was so happy because she had just bought this new CD. It was the soundtrack to The Bodyguard. We drove to Garden State Plaza and listened to Whitney Houston the way there and back.
My mom, with her heavily accented English, sang “I’ll Always Love You” as though it meant something to her. I sang along thinking that it was a nice song. Had this happened in a different time, I am sure there would be videos of my mom and I singing posted somewhere on YouTube.
We listened to that CD ad nauseum. She’s always had a thing for “repeat”.
Maybe back then it didn’t mean much. But that memory is evidence that I really did have a happy childhood. I’d forgotten I used to sing in the car with my mom and my brothers. I’m sorry it took Whitney Houston’s death to bring it all back.
RIP Whitney Houston.