Hollie Grimaldi Flores: A lifetime ago
It’s amazing to realize that while we may only have one life to live, we have many different lifetimes within it. Some say every decade could be its own lifetime. Life as child and then as a teen, onto adulthood and so on.
Not too long ago, I took a trip back to one of those times.
Beginning in the mid-1980s, for over a decade, I was in a relationship with a man who worked in the music industry. I met him on a blind date, just three weeks after I arrived in California.
When we met, I only had a vague idea of what being a “roadie” meant and had not really heard of the band he worked for, which he found very appealing. We were both in our early 20s.
Going on tour
It was the era of big hair, heavy metal, and ballad bands, complete with a lot of spandex. “Sex, drugs and rock and roll,” as the saying goes, though I would argue the sequence.
Many of my friends think it was this dance with the music industry that drew me to him and while the excitement may have played a role, in truth, he was one of only three people I knew in the entire state. Regardless of his job, at that point in time, it was just nice to have someone to do things with.
The band had just finished recording an album and were getting ready to tour behind it. Tour “legs” were often six to eight weeks long and would be interrupted with week or two off, before the next one began.
Eventually, the tour would end, the band would take a short break and then head into the studio to record another album, which hopefully included a hit, and a new tour would follow.
As the girlfriend, I would sometimes join the tour, spending a few days on the bus travelling from city to city, doing my best to stay out of the way and keeping myself entertained while trucks were unloaded, and stages, lighting rigs and sound systems were installed. I hung around backstage with wives and girlfriends and got to know the other crew members and the band.
Hours and hours of downtime and travel made for some close connections. I would leave them all “on the road” and go back to work at my job, waiting for the next break or the next time I could get away. He would fly me out to cities when we both had a few days off in a row. It was how I got to see exciting places like Akron and Pittsburgh.
Being part of the entourage meant VIP treatment at restaurants and private parties and being invited to see other artists who were performing nearby.
Life continued in a cycle of living alone while he toured and then weeks of having him dote on me when he was home. I would drop everyone and everything when he was around, leaving me with few friends and little to do when he left.
For the better part of three years that single band and the members of that community were my family. Then, one day, it ended, and my roadie boyfriend went to work for another artist … and then another … and another.
The cycle of touring was always the same, but I never again experienced the close-knit community cultivated with that first group.
After more than a decade of touring, marriage, and two children, the relationship ended. I spent the next 20 plus years developing a career, and a place in a new community. I raised my children, found true love, and married again.
I found a new and fulfilling life in Nevada County.
When the past meets the present
Recently, I saw an ad announcing that band from the ’80s was performing in the area. I reached out to them and was invited to the show.
Stepping back stage and visiting with these old friends was a bit surreal. We hugged, and I introduced them to my daughter, who is just a few months younger now then I was when it all began. They marveled at the offspring of their old crew member and we took photos and reminisced until it was time for them to go on stage.
Settling into my seat, I felt the energy of the crowd and looked around to see an audience, who, like me, were mostly long past their prime. Then, the lights came up and the band took the stage.
With the heavy beating of drums and screaming guitars, I found myself out of my chair, cheering them on and singing along. The familiar chords took me back in time to that naïve 20 something girl. So many memories attached to each lyric, as they worked through the set list. I was overcome with emotion more than once.
I could not stop thinking about how much road and how many miles I had travelled since I sat back stage watching those same songs as a young girl. I hardly recognize her today. It was truly another life time. And while I am happy to have lived it and lived through it, it really was just a small piece of the story of my life.
There is another band that sings, “Who says you can’t go back?” After stepping back in time, I say, happily, “I do.”
Hollie Grimaldi Flores is a Nevada County resident and freelance writer for hire. She can be reached at email@example.com.
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