I think my favorite role of Judy Garland’s was as Esther Smith in “Meet Me in St. Louis.” The Gibson-Girl look suited her well, and she was so young and vibrant and in such good voice. There is nothing quite like the joy of “The Trolley Song”. Ah, love.
I recently had dinner with two of my friends who have fallen in love, and hearing their story of getting to know each other and realizing, pretty early on, that there was something very good there made my heart go zing. At one point during the conversation, one of them turned to me and said, “Could your smile get any bigger?”
No, it couldn’t, because I love these two people and they suit each other so well, and finding that Someone is one of life’s grandest joys. Hearing their story took me back to my own story of falling in love with the man who would eventually become my husband – pretty much once that train left the station, it was never going back. We thought we had been quite clever keeping our relationship secret, but once we started telling people, they all had a “No duh” kind of reaction, which was a little anti-climactic, but I was in love so I didn’t care.
“Meet in St. Louis” ends with the family and love interests gazing at the lagoon at the World’s Fair. All is well, all crises averted or resolved, all unrequited loves requited.
Life isn’t like that. People don’t spontaneously burst into song and dance, and happy endings are never perfect. Some love goes unrequited; some relationships don’t last. Judy Garland lost that voice and that vivacity, but she never really lost her presence.
My friends who have fallen in love know that, because they’ve endured their fair share of disappointment and sorrow. That does not erase the elation they now know. And if this relationship moves to something deeper, that elation will get burnished and shine differently. I hope that for them.
When I was growing up, my parent had this funny whiskey decanter set that was a trolley car. The center held two different cut glass decanters, and at each end of the car, roped off with a little chain, were two shot glasses. When you lifted one of the decanters, a music box started playing “I Left My Heart in San Francisco.”
I supposed we all leave our hearts somewhere. Perhaps it’s best to leave our hearts with someone.
Clang, clang, clang.