It was 1986, I was far from home and family, having moved to El Paso that summer with my “boyfriend” who didn’t always regard me as his “girlfriend”…..we worked together in various bands, duos and trios, making really mediocre country music, although I thought we were awesome.
During the week I was working at the Lowrey Organ store at Cielo Vista Mall, hopelessly trying to sell keyboards and pianos, but soon realized I was a terrible salesperson! The owner told me I was good at entertaining the prospective customers, but could never close the deal. Fortunately for me, he still needed someone there to help run the place, and I looked good standing at the front of the store.
I spent a lot of time people watching while I was working there, as we were right next door to the movie theater entrance, so the lines waiting for the movies were often long and the people were interesting. We had customers from all across the board walking in to look at the instruments, and I enjoyed chatting with them. They usually noticed my “accent” and asked where I was from. So, I told my adventurous story, while omitting a few minor details, because I didn’t want to seem too kooky.
There was one young man, a salesman for a local radio station, who came by once a week trying to sell advertising to the owner, who was not interested at all, so Charles would visit with me and listen to me play the piano. As Christmas was nearing, he liked to sing carols, and I was happy to oblige and we had a lot of fun, as long as the boss wasn’t there! Charles had listened to my story and knew I was not very happy with my situation, but I was too proud to admit defeat and go back home where my family was, so he tried to cheer me up and encourage me. He was a salesman, after all…..
One day he dropped by to tell me goodbye, because he was taking another job, and he brought me a Christmas letter, a beautiful handwritten letter in calligraphy that I have kept and cherished all these years, even though I never saw him again after that day. It has been 25 years now, and I wonder if Charles Clay of El Paso ever knew how touched I was at the sentiments he wrote…..we never exchanged phone numbers, never went on a date, just shared a little music together in the music store at the mall.
I try to remind myself, that even though I may not be brilliantly funny or wise beyond the normal, that somewhere along the way in my life, maybe I, too, have crossed paths with someone and left a memory-print on their life……
And, if I have not, then I hope to do so someday…..