The Story of Charmay
People have been asking me where my name originated. I looked into a manuscript of my memoir that I wrote in
2014, and have not yet decided to publish. I found this story there and have decided to share it with you. I hope you
Light and Music,
“The Story of Charmay”, excerpt from a memoir (untitled) by Maggie Moor
“Hey, Charmay!” squawked Jesse, clearly geeked out, paving a beeline my way through scads of drunken late night patrons and leggy, young fawns. Jess was a drummer I’d met a few times while singing at a Nightingale’s jam sesh, East Village. Charmay was my then current moniker in life. I’d been through a few already. This one was delivered to me in a dream. A little girl in a sheer dressing gown, descending endless rows of whitewashed spiral stairs from midnight sky. Fragile thing sunk bare knees to earth reaching out with her unsure longing, desperate to touch. I met her eyes, could see her soul held an amorphous incandescent fluttering, distant horizons from other lands trapped in the hidden closets of her mind. Trembling fingers wrapped around my wrist, she whispered hoarsely, “Cold.” Apparently this maybe had something to with the child part of me asking for help, which apparently I had been chastising since I was about nine. As she faded, she said her name was Charmay. I was so shock-and-awed by this night visit I even told my mother about it on the phone long distance. Well, just the basics.
She likes to chat on the phone for hours, and I would rather throw myself over a bridge than engage telephone chat, but I was healing a compression fracture at lumbar one, smack in the middle of my spine, after hurling myself into eventual temporary paralysis at a local library fundraiser in West Marin, Cali. I’d been all excited ’cause I love libraries and didn’t want this one to go under.
I was doing flip circus tricks off a springboard in the Rec Room. It was the end of the library party, had a blast, ready to split, turned to do that last perfect front tuck fly and, well you know the story. Woke up in a hospital bed with a morphine drip, watching elephants float over my foggy head. Funny, I had just taken a book from that library on dance in pre-Hindu religions. Elephants are revered as earth-dwelling deities. Call it a blessing I broke my back ‘cause at the time I was homeless, hitching the Wild West country solo. The whack got me out of crashing cold April showers in Jodie’s old chicken shack. Got me a spot on the couch of two artsy girls who made fresh juices and went to yoga all day. The doctors ordered lie down and surrender. Heal, breathe, stretch, long walks, straight spine, arms swing free, swim as often as you can. I swear, I must have been born for invalid living. Couldn’t stress survival even if I wanted to. My mother mailed me a couple gigantic t¬-shirts as get well presents to fit over the Judy Blume Deenie-like scoliosis spine straightening brace I had to wear for six months and I indulged her in a few more long telephone jags.
On this particular roundabout Mom shared old family histoire. My Vaudevillian performer great grandparents had an infant named Charmay who died at three months. Mom said she hadn’t thought of this story in years and never pondered passing it on to me. She said nobody in the family ever talked about it.
“Ya know-” she did this throat clearing raspy thing she does “—I don’t know much else, I mean these things happened all the time back then. I know that Charlie and May named my mother for May’s mom and combined both their names for little Charmay.” “Were any birth records instituted,“ I inquired. My attention pinged away from the crayon I was scrawling with while idling with Mom, fire-strewn feathers on the phoenix I’d started months back camping out in Utah. “Or did anyone keep a journal?” I knew Mom had a box of old family stuff, but I never cozied to her yakking memories. On Thanksgivings I’d heard her sis talk about how we had these Vaudevillian song, dance, performer great-grandparents, Charlie Brown and May Newman. Charlie’d run away with the circus as a teen; jumped Gold Rush wagons to San Fran; made his way East, met May. Formed a tap dance duo, toured the world: Vaudeville circuit, 1929 Stock Market Crash Instead of bouncing over to Hollywood Talkies, they’d settled on Coney Island, helped my Mom’s mom raise her daughters, after her flophouse Irish lighting designer baby-daddy had jumped ship. Charlie drove cab, May cashiered at Saks.
“She wasn’t alive long enough. If they had been more religious I’m sure it would have been inscribed in a family Bible or some such, but they were just theatre people.” I laughed. “Yeah, theatre people have their own religions for sure.” I could see Mom’s big smile through the phone. We always could jive in my family over theatre jokes.
I’ve longtime believed in soul evolution through reincarnation. Don’t ask where or when I took that knowledge, just seems natural. It could be I came forth with Charmay’s soul in this lifetime a few generations later.
Maybe my mother wasn’t supposed to be my mother. I could have been her aunt. I’ve always imagined that our souls are borne of this kind of universal life force energy and we’re here to learn lessons. We often travel alongside the same souls or groups of souls. I hate talking about this stuff¬¬; it sounds lofty. But when I was eleven or twelve I’d sit in my room and write about it. I’d go in the closet, shut the door and write letters to the Energetic Flow asking for things that I wanted. Like a boy to like me. Or to get the steps down in dance class. Or for my mom or me to be safe from her crazy boyfriend. I guess I was trying to make sense of things, but eventually I would learn enough lessons that I could exist without my body, my soul would go through enough alchemical cleansing to become vibration and sound; the universal life force light which constructs the galaxies’ necessary energetic holding pattern.
Back to Broadway: “What are you doing here?” Jesse asked. I turned from gazing at endless rows of ruby jewel-lit cars while trying flag a cab, flashed him my best sarcastic smirk.
From “The Story of Charmay”, excerpt of a memoir (untitled) by Maggie Moor