George Was My Beatle

by Samantha Capps Emerson

I am eleven years old and I can sign George Harrison's autograph so well it looks almost like the real thing. This is what my friends -- Mindy, who gets to be John, Eileen who is Paul, Katie as Ringo -- and I spend our time doing when we're not pretending to play our fake wooden guitars and drums. We read "The Beatles" magazine and copy their handwriting, learn their histories, and memorize their favorite things. It is 1965; there is no MTV, so we spend a lot of time in our imaginations, looking at record covers, playing the music, dreaming. George is the "quiet Beatle" as I am a "quiet" child; thus, he is mine. As the years go by I love other rock stars too, but my interest tends to fall by the wayside, or as in the year I graduate from high school, I am devastated by the sudden destruction and loss of Jimi Hendrix, Janis Joplin, and Jim Morrison, right in a row. But I am always proud of George. He grows and takes an interest in spirituality and I follow him; he explores different kinds of music and so do I; he ages gracefully and is always elegant but full of life; he helps invent the Travelling Wilburys and I adore them. This is what the quiet ones do -- calmly, creatively, they continue to soar, while maintaining a firm grip on the real world. On the day George dies, I cry for a moment and begin to remember, tucked safely away in my office like a grown-up woman -- and when I try to write his autograph once again thirty-five years later, I find that I almost can, that I am almost able to write his name with a flourish, that name that is written so boldly across my life and so many others over time.

©2001 by Samantha Capps Emerson

Samantha Capps Emerson was so much older then, she's younger than that now.

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