Do you ever look back at your life and your (hopefully) varied experiences and wonder, what was the catalyst? By that, I mean, what put you on the path to where you are today? What got you here? Where did it all start? Can you pinpoint a specific moment? Was it conscious? Was it deliberate? Or, did it ‘just happen’? It could well be just that, you got on with things, made choices at the time for whatever reason without much thought or heartache or deliberation as you simply knew that’s what you wanted to do! Whilst growing up can be pretty crazy, traumatic almost, a rollercoaster ride of emotions and experiences and choices, we get there, sort of, somehow…
For some of us though, whilst it’s some or all of those things, there’s a little bit more to it. There’s all that stuff I’ve just mentioned going on but when you’re trying to keep your head down so that you don’t get bullied at school or at home, which could get physical at times, and which didn’t abate as you got older, sometimes it got worse, it’s a whole different ballgame! It was probably the mental torture that was the worst though. Coming from a home where you had no choice or say in absolutely anything, where attitudes and outlooks on life were very black and white, very much stuck in the past, and where children were seen and not heard, and you did exactly as you were told without question otherwise you’d regret it, the older you got the more unbearable this became…especially when you are trying to find your own place in the bigger scheme of things and realise that there is a big wide world out there and you are desperate to see it, to be a part of it, to live it!
And, you just know that you have to find your own groove, there’s a growing feeling inside that there has to be more out there, surely? A feeling that you are going to explode if you don’t try to ‘break free’ (cue a song by Queen!) or ‘break out’ (cue a song by Swing Out Sister!) A feeling that if you don’t just do it then you could very well miss your chance altogether and you’ll never do it! At 17 years of age, questioning your identity, well, not really knowing what your identity was, being totally confused and scared of your own sexuality, having no self-worth, being bullied at school, being bullied at home, not knowing what to do, well, that’s exactly how I felt!
So, what do you do? Well, there comes a point when you decide that you have to do something, you have to escape! At the beginning of January 1985, you declare (to your mum) that you’re going to the one place you have always wanted to visit, the USA! And your Mum’s vaguely sarcastic reply?…”Good luck with that!” But, the seed was sown, a plan was forming. I was on a mission, I was going to escape, and after working every hour I could, the 18-year-old me paid for his ticket himself, finished school, packed his case and was off on a month-long adventure to the United States.
I had no idea that this is where it would all start, that my life would change forever, that I would ‘find my groove’! I remember the Summer of ’85, like it was yesterday. I remember the flight with TWA (!!!), I remember the sights, the sounds, the smells, I remember Cape Cod & New York City, I remember absolutely everything! But, what do I remember the most? I remember my family in the States, family I had never met before who welcomed me into their homes and lives without question, my uncles, my aunts, my cousins who didn’t know me but who took me under their wing and looked after me & spoilt me but, most of all, they talked to me and they listened to me and they asked questions and…they were interested, they were interested in ME! That was mind-blowing! They didn’t judge, they didn’t bully, they didn’t mock, they didn’t belittle, they simply accepted!
And, whilst all this was going on, the impact of the movie ’Desperately Seeking Susan’ and the song “Into The Groove” during the Summer of ’85 was just as profound for the 18-year-old me! The timing was impeccable and, in a way, for me anyway, it was meant to be! There was Madonna, on screen, in the video, being Susan, being Madonna, doing exactly what she wanted to do, being exactly who she wanted to be and taking no nonsense from anyone, she was free to be herself! And, in my own way, I was sort of doing the same! I was being exactly who I wanted to be! I was so free to be me! I remember watching the film for the first time on that trip and thinking, realising even, OMG, I’m having my own personal adventure right now, right this very minute! I’m being more like me than I have ever been before, more than I was ever allowed to be before! That feeling was immense!
Now, whilst I didn’t suddenly transform myself overnight into someone completely different, it wasn’t a case of ‘once a caterpillar now a butterfly’, it was more that one part of the jigsaw was finally falling into place! My self-confidence may have still been pretty much non-existant for quite a while to come, but it did all play an absolutely massive role in who I became as a person and how I dealt with things. You see, after that trip, there were still many hurdles ahead which I had to overcome however, that trip (and the subsequent return trip I made the following year as I couldn’t wait to get back!) gave me the strength to persevere when things were tough, and they did get very tough at times, they do for all of us unfortunately. But, that initial trip in the Summer of ’85 was the catalyst that made me realise, it’s OK to be me! And to be proud of that!
In the end, we all have to have faith that things will turn out right. In a way, we have to trust the process and allow it to happen, no matter how tough it gets sometimes, and see it as a means to an end. We can all put up barriers if we like, which I have done on many occasions, believe me, however, they only get in the way. Or, we can always be scared of taking ‘that’ step thereby missing out on something that could be so very important, dare I say it, pivotal? So, I started ‘getting into my groove’ in the Summer of ’85 and, whilst the tune may have been ‘remixed’ quite a few times along the way, and taken me off on various new and unexpected paths, I can trace them all back to that ‘original mix’!
So, where exactly does your groove come from? Any idea? Let us know! And, if you feel like adding a little ‘remix’ to it then the Groovelates family is right here ready, willing and able to give unlimited support! Oh, and we NEVER judge! Come see for yourself at www.groovelates.com
‘Getting Into My Groove’ in 1985 was definitely the best thing I ever did…and I had absolutely no inkling of just what else lay ahead!
by Sean Francis Cawley