The Write Life: Writing a letter to ONJ.
When I was eight years old, I wrote a letter to Olivia Newton John. On brown, thin, lined school paper, I asked her to be my mother. I can see the letter folded and opened and reread. There were erase marks from misspelled words, unformed thoughts. I cannot recall anything else I said in the letter, other than “Will you be my mother?”
It was 1976. The desire for her to shelter me came somewhere in-between, “Have You Never Been Mellow” to “Come on Over.”
I was in love with her, in love with her voice, in love with her smile. Her tears that she shed the night she performed on “Star Search” spoke to me about her depth. I believed that my life would be validated, I’d feel loved if I called her, “Mom.”
I had a mother. My mother was a single woman working part time as an operator at Pacific Bell. She had three other children besides me. She had a man she was in love with. With my mother there was no alcohol abuse (she left my father because he was an alcoholic.), no drug abuse. She would have been kind to me I believe. So why was I willing to trade my mother in for Olivia?
Through her voice, her music, I felt alive. I felt seen. I felt sheltered in the energy of her voice. There would be more to my life if she were in it. I’d sing “I love you. I honestly love you,” and my heart pumped with desire.
I later wanted to be her. I dreamed of a being singer and make records just like she did.
All this was before Grease, the movie that made Olivia a household name. The movie and the energy she possessed in the film just solidified by need to sing and perform.
I have seen Olivia in concert a few times. Once when I was a young girl, and the last time was her second to last concert she gave.
She represents beauty. Her voice is flawless. Her smile real and deep. In a world that loves our music icons to be tabloid worthy, she offered little.
I listen to her music today. Touched by the depth and feeling that she can still evoke in me, living forever.