Anna & The King & I

One of my favorite songs in musical theatre is the song sung by the character Anna in the 1951 Rodgers and Hammerstein musical, The King and I.

I have always loved it, even when I was very young. I watched the movie version with Deborah Kerr, one of my favorite film actresses of all of the many Hollywood movies I watched after school.

Of course I wanted to be Anna. Never mind that she was a widow and having to go to a country far from home to make a living as a tutor and raise her son. Those things went over my head, I think.

She had a wonderful accent and wore gorgeous costumes. And she and the King had such a romantic and special relationship. I practiced talking and moving like her, and sang her songs, preparing myself for the day that I, too, would be a Hollywood starlet like her.

The lyrics of this song have grown more meaningful to me as I age. I feel I can sing this song with real conviction at this point in my life, having known great loves of my own.

Here is the scene from the film. Anna (Deborah Kerr) sings to the king’s many wives, letting them get to know her:

Hello young lovers whoever you are
I hope your troubles are few
All my good wishes go with you tonight
I’ve been in love like youBe brave young lovers and follow your star
Be brave and faithful and true
Cling very close to each other tonight
I’ve been in love like youI know how it feels to have wings on your heels
And to fly down the street in a trance
You fly down a street on a chance that you’ll meet
And you meet, not really by chanceDon’t cry young lovers whatever you do
Don’t cry because I’m alone
All of my mem’ries are happy tonight
I’ve had a love of my own

I’ve had a love of my own like yours
I’ve had a love of my own

Back then, I was not fully cognizant of the seriousness of the situation the lovers in the story find themselves in. They are servants to the King, and their love is forbidden. They indeed must be brave to try to be together, literally risking their lives to do so.

One would think that this ancient story would no longer be relevant. Sadly, it continues to resonate truthfully, reflecting the danger that still can exist between people simply trying to love one another.

I often catch this song floating through my psyche, when times get tough.

Be brave, young lovers, and follow your star. Be brave and faithful and true.

It never ceases to bolster me.

 

Inspired by The Daily Post Daily Word Prompt: brave

Reflecting Pool

When I was at summer camp one summer in my adolescence, I learning synchronized swimming.

It was incredible.

I had always loved to swim. As soon as I could crawl practically, I was also in the pool. I was on swim teams throughout my childhood. Summers were spent practically living at the neighborhood pool with zinc oxide on my nose and forehead and fingers green or red from the boxes of jello powder we’d stick our fingers in and suck the sugary granules from for quick energy during the swim meets.

I was a shy kid, and large for my age, so I was a bit on the outskirts much of the time at school and socially. But the pool was a level playing area. I was a good swimmer, a strong one, and so I had some skills to bring to the team and so could feel a part of that whole, if not of the “in” crowd.

Then, at summer camp, being away from home helped me to break out of my shell a bit, to try on new parts of myself. I took new risks, and I even learned some new strokes, like the sidestroke, for water safety training (how to save someone from drowning,) which I loved.

And one particular summer, I learned synchronized swimming.

Looking back, that was pretty extraordinary, to have had someone there to teach that water sport.

I especially loved it because I was also obsessed early on in my life with movies. I watched the Million Dollar Movies channel religiously every day after school, catching all the old Hollywood classics, including films with the gorgeous and athletic water dancer, Esther Williams. Williams was an American competitive swimmer and actress who made a series of films in the 1940s and early 1950s known as “aquamusicals,” which featured elaborate performances with synchronized swimming and diving.

I loved all musicals, so naturally loved the movies that had her dancing in choreographed dances in the water with other dancer-swimmers. It is hard to imagine such a thing would be popular today, but to me, then, in the 70’s, it seemed glamorous and just more of the Hollywood musical movies world that I already knew I wanted to be a part of.

That summer at camp when I got to actually do what I had seen in the old movies, I got to feel like a beautiful mermaid movie star, and it was amazing. We even performed a small show for the other campers at the end of camp! It gave me such a wonderful feeling to be a part of a group, creating something beautiful. I think that was the beginning of a lifetime love affair of collaborating with other artists.

But more than that, it changed me in ways that are hard to articulate. It woke up something in me that I couldn’t hear at home where I was surrounded by reflections of myself that weren’t as vibrant or colorful as those I found in the waters and other campers at camp.

To this day, there are some synchronized swimming moves I still recall and often do, and when I do, I conjure up the magic of that summer, and my movie star mermaid days. The part of me that it awakened still lives on in my work and who I am, and I am so grateful for that.

 

 

 

Inspired by The Daily Post Daily Word Prompt: synchronize