She felt light headed. It couldn’t be. Patsy Cline had been dead for over 50 years. But here she was sitting across from her. Not the buxom country star she’d seen on so many of her album covers at home; this girl was just a child. Jen started to lose her breath. She looked around the diner. The boxcar diner with its polished aluminum walls and red leather stools were brand new. She looked out the window to the car. Beside it were other vintage cars just like the one Patsy had been driving, except, she looked at the menu.
“2 eggs, sausage and biscuits – $.35″
She quickly stood up and headed for the counter. She grabbed a newspaper and flipped to the front page. She stared in disbelief at the top margin. June 2, 1951.
Her heart stopped. She was in a panic. Someone had turned on the jukebox and it was singing loudly now. Her head was spinning.
“Hey, you al right?” Patsy asked. “You’re lookin’ a little pale honey you want some water?”
“I have to get out of here,” she said. She stood up and ran past the waitress and out the door to the parking lot. She was running fast out of the drive and onto the black of the nighttime street. All she could think of was getting back to NYC, back to her husband, back to the Lower East Side, to Rockwood 2, to everything that was home to her. She was crying now. She didn’t know how she’d gotten to when she was, but she wanted to go home.
A moment later she saw car lights come upon her from behind. It was Patsy.
“Hey what gotten into you?”
“Leave me alone!” cried Jen
“C’mon now calm down, it can’t be that bad.” said Patsy.
But it was that bad. She was Marty McFly from Back to the Future. Except there was no Doc Brown or Flux Capacitor to help her get out of this, and that car Patsy was driving never going to make it to 88.8 miles an hour. To make matters worse, she knew what was in store for Patsy and she couldn’t tell her; of her legendary success and her tragic untimely demise in a plane crash at the height of her career. Any person who’s ever seen a movie or read a book about time travel knows that one cannot interfere with the course of history. It would upset the nature of all space and time. But how could she figure this out on her own?
Jen slowed to stop.
“Patsy I’m sorry it’s not your fault, I just wanna go home.”
“Well where’s home sweetie?”
“I need to go to New York City”
“New York City! Honey when I said I was headin’ to the city I didn’t mean New York City! That’s miles from here!”
Jen knew Patsy had been on her way to Nashville. That’s where she’s supposed to go, but Jen was desperate. Besides 1951 was years before Patsy would have her first single. Could things really change for her all that much if she took a slight detour? Jen didn’t know enough about Patsy’s life to know if it would make a difference or not. No. She couldn’t risk it. Even the conversation they were having together might affect things entirely.
She was frozen in fear. It went against every rule of time travel but she knew she’d have to ask Patsy for help. It would be difficult enough trying to convince Patsy of what had happened to her but she’d have to risk it, or be stuck in 1951 forever.
Jen got back in the car.
“Let’s stop for a minute.” Jen said. “I have to explain something to you and it’s going to sound completely insane, ludicrous even. There won’t be any reason for you to believe me but I need to ask you to trust me, and more importantly to help me.”
She recapped the events of the previous 6 hours. Telling her everything but what she knew about Patsy.
“Well? You weren’t wrong about it sounding insane.” Patsy said. “That’s the craziest story I’ve ever heard! “ But the panic in Jen’s voice told Patsy that she was telling the truth. Now Patsy needed to make the decision to help her or not, to potentially alter her own life. She paused for a moment and then turned to Jen,
“I guess we’re going to New York City!”
They drove on through the night, now heading for the Big Smoke. The circumstance of their journey was starting to sink in with both of them. The fear slowly subsided and she began to think about her husband. “What would he do in this situation?” She thought.
She knew exactly what he would do. First he would see this as the coolest thing that had ever happened to him. Then he’d befriend everyone in sight and host a party. Shortly thereafter he’d run for mayor and win by a landslide. That was his way. She’d always admired him for that. She was too shy and awkward for that course of action. Yet the more Jen pondered the idea of where she was and who she was with the more excited she became. It was 1951 and she sitting next to her musical idol! What an experience this was; an opportunity of a lifetime!
“So Patsy, who are your favorite singers, ”she said. “How did you know you wanted to leave home and do this?”
They talked long into the night, Patsy told her all about her childhood, how her mother supported her music, of her hopes, her doubts, of her childhood brush with death suffering from rheumatic fever, and of how when she got well she knew that singing was her destiny.
“When you nearly lose your life it makes you realize that you have to give it your all, every day that you’re on this earth.” Patsy said. “I see so many people rushing around not stopping to enjoy or appreciate anything these days, or people who are really gifted but they hide those gifts behind their obligations or responsibilities. I try to never be like that.”
Jen knew that feeling all too well. In her younger days she’d dreamed of being a singer herself, but the life of uncertainty and instability stopped her dead in her tracks from pursuing it. Ultimately she’d been the one, no one else that had closed the door to a life of creativity. She’d often wondered who she might have become if she’d really given it her all. Jen opened up to Patsy about her fear of the unknown, and about her wanting to be a singer too but not having the courage.
“What do you have to lose by trying? Patsy said, “The worst that can happen is someone telling you they don’t like your voice. So what! If you like it and it makes you happy then that’s all there is to it. That’s the way I see it.”
“But what if I’m not good enough?” Jen said, “What if I fail? What if I don’t have the discipline it takes to make it work?” She thought about the many times she’d joined a gym with all of the best intentions, but then stopped going after 2 weeks.
“Well, I can’t say much about the failing part, only people who give up fail. But I rarely see people who are consistently trying say, ‘Well, that’s it, I’ve failed.’ They just keep going. Life is full of ‘what ifs,’ that’s what makes a life worth living. No one says it will be easy, but I think you know deep down in your belly what the right thing to do is, and the right things are usually the hardest things to do. So take a deep breath and do it.”
Jen knew now why she was here. She needed Patsy. She needed someone whom she idolized tell her that she could do anything she wanted to do. It was all up to her, that she was the only one standing in her way of herself. She just needed to have faith. But how could she get back home to prove it and put it into action? She thought of Dorothy in the Wizard of Oz. Maybe if she clicked her heels together and thought of home it would work.
Jen closed her eyes and thought, “I’m back at Rockwood 2 Its Monday night Dec 30, 8pm, Rockwood 2, Monday night, Dec 30th 8pm, Rockwood 2 Monday night 8pm Dec 30. She opened her eyes.
To be continued.
Jenna will be performing with her band on Monday night, Dec 30th at 8pm at Rockwood Music Hall Stage 2