Following Rick Springfield’s Guide to Happiness

Way back in a long-ago day, when ATMs were a startling new technology and a ground-breaking convenience we’d never before imagined, I helped Rick Springfield’s friend find one.

At the time, I had only a vague idea of who Rick Springfield was, when his pal tapped me on the shoulder while riding on D.C.’s Metro and asked, “Do you live here? Do you know what stop might have an ATM nearby?”

I did, however, have a certainty about where ATMs were located, and I told him so. His way of thanking me was to give me back-stage tickets to “a play I’m in.” Turns out he was playing the cop at the National Theater in D.C. in a touring production of “Grease” in which Rick Springfield was starring. Or maybe Rick Springfield was just performing and not starring. The memory is somewhat vague. Regardless of his role, I suspect he was part of said production to give it a bump in ticket sales, regardless of his upward or downward stardom spiral–the direction of which at the time I do not recall.

I took my youngest-by-13-years sister to the play, and we watched in awe as Rick Springfield barely gave a bow before he sprang back onto stage and sang all his hits gone by. Women my age and older screamed and sang along; their daughters, as did my sister, cringed. Afterward, we did indeed go backstage with my ATM pal/play co-star to meet Mr. Springfield–who couldn’t have been nicer and more chatty–and had one of the more fun nights of my life at that point. To say that my sister was beyond thrilled….

Of late, I have been less than thrilled with my life in paradise. I work seven days a week quite by accident and now feel cornered by the accident, my once good but now fair-weather friends have come and completely gone on the whims of the tides and afternoon rain showers, and my thoughts have wandered into the gray zone: Is calling it quits, finally, and heading back to D.C. and all its eccentric activity and energetic layers of life a cure for the malaise that has settled in?

Why, in the depths of weeks of angst, a random and seemingly unimportant memory would surface, is beyond my understanding. But for some reason, this latest crisis of life sparked the Rick Springfield memory. As in, what would Rick do right now–or, more appropriately, do back then–as laughable as that may seem.

Maybe, I realized, it’s not an either-or decision. Maybe, I thought, smiling at the memory of Rick’s curly-topped head as he belted out a hit that had nothing to do with “Grease” but that the women in the audience loved as their daughters hid their eyes, it’s about doing what you need to do for the time being, and always planning for, always knowing that you can do whatever else you want to do, when you want.

So, I star behind multiple bars, not so much because I am a great bartender, but because I am not a Keys girl. I miss seeing my D.C. friends and my kids, not so much because I can’t go see them, but because I adhere to a work-ethic that is the antithesis of a Keys girl and can never find even a few days to take off.

I have become curiously miserable in a life in paradise that is lauded as the dream of a lifetime by The Weather Channel’s “Jim Cantore” Stories” in a repeatedly shown series. Because I sadly take my life here so very seriously, even when no one else does within the boundaries of these beautiful coral rocks.

“What makes you happy?” asked my best-sister-like friend when I called her for answers, who surely must struggle with that question every day of every week since her husband died a little more than a year ago at such a young age.

Simple question. Complicated answer.

Until and unless you come up with an answer like Rick Springfield did back in the day: You work the work that is offered at the time, and you hopefully still work your magic. You enjoy the best parts of where you land as you can, and you never forget the people and places that made you smile the most–when you were at the top, and now, when you are simply here.

It doesn’t take much to acknowledge the tap on a shoulder from a stranger. Stranger moments have led to more defining moments. But this particular shoulder tap, remembered from a long-ago time, reminded me to accept and live the good I have here and to answer the absolute need I have to re-connect there.

Guess I just wanna be “Jessie’s Girl.” Yeah, that’ll work.






7 responses to “Following Rick Springfield’s Guide to Happiness”

  1. joeinvegas Avatar

    Guess you just have to learn the Keys attitude. Maybe Jimmy Buffet would do you more good than Rick.

  2. Kim Ayres Avatar

    What kind of life would you really like to live, RG?

    And how important is the place – is it about the weather/climate, or the people?

    It seems to me that you had an idea and followed it down to Florida, but have since lost your vision. I think it would be worth while having a review or create a new plan

  3. gabrielle Avatar

    Maybe you’re just plain flat tired? You’re working 7 days a week.

  4. Restaurant Gal Avatar
    Restaurant Gal

    joeinvegas–If I never hear another Jimmy Buffet song as long as I live….

    Kim–I have asked myself those questions many times over the past month, over the past three years. I realize, I reluctantly admit because the answer isn’t an easy one to act upon, that it’s not the place or the weather or the people or even a vision. It’s about finding a perennially fleeting peace within myself that is so very hard to do. Until I can figure out how and why that is so difficult for me, it doesn’t much matter where I live or work. The same problems, troubles and anxiety will travel north or south or east or west with me.

    gabrielle–Oh, I am tired beyond belief. But as I commented back to Kim, all the sleep in the world doesn’t wipe out the core issue.

    In general–This is a highly personal post, one I almost didn’t write, and one I almost pulled twice overnight. The memory of the Metro train person and going to the play with my young sister are vivid. But I almost laughed in the light of this morning–was it really “Grease” or some other play? Was it actually Rick Springfield or some other pop star back in the day? But the gist of the memory made me smile, and it shook me out of my doom-and-gloom feelings for the time being. Now I just need to create a plan as Kim suggests, but one focused on the internal workings that make me tick, instead of on the external trappings of my life. This is not to say work, etc. is great, because it’s not. It is to say that I have some pretty great things and people in my life. I need to re-focus on them and let go of the seriousness I take everything else. Easy to say. So, we’ll see.

  5. Shininggoober Avatar

    Look in the mirror and smile.

  6. Yono Senada Avatar

    I can feel your pain. I lived in Islamorada for 7 years in in 1990’s. I can tell you the average home buyer stays an average of 5 years before they put their home up for sale. Men, usually love it as all they want to do is fish and drink but women go batty with boredom or become alcoholics following their mates’ routines. You need time “off the rock” on a regular basis to keep your sanity. When we moved from the keys it took me years to be able to sit through a Jimmy Buffet song . . . “Paradise” is relative.

  7. Craig Avatar

    Oh my Gosh! I would love to see you again and pick up where we left off…miss you of course and lots to catch up…sorry you are feeling blue.