My dad and I are experts at creating memories together.
I remember the echo of composite leather against concrete as my dad taught me the rules of basketball and how to throw a perfect lay-up when I was in grade school.
I remember sitting on barstools at our house on Kings Avenue in Paradise Valley eating—wait for it—Fritos and Miracle Whip.
I remember my dad sitting me down to have a hard conversation about one of my college boyfriends, because he saw an unbalanced relationship (he was right) and wanted more for me.
I remember driving down to the University of Arizona with him, because he wanted to be my moral support when I auditioned for their musical theater program.
I remember my dad calling me in one Halloween to watch a snippet of Rocky Horror Picture Show when I was much too young to see Dr. Frankenfurter gallivanting around in stockings and a garter belt. He flipped the channel before things got too risqué, laughing all the while.
But my best memories with my dad involve cassette tapes and an old red and white Ford truck. In my dad’s Ford, classic rock was king and his collection of cassettes sacred. I grew up singing along to the likes of Lynard Skynard, The Eagles, The Cars, and, most importantly, Queen. (Is it any wonder that I gravitated to musical theater with those theatrical, fantastical influences?)
Even as a kid, I knew there was something special about Freddie Mercury. The voice that could hit the craziest of notes with so much power. The alter ego that allowed Freddie to strut around on stage like a peacock. The lyrics, which made no sense to me as a kid (I’m still not sure if I know what’s going on in Bohemian Rhapsody—but I do know every word!) and yet I sensed intuitively they were damn good.
That was over 15 years ago. A lot has changed since I was a kid. I’m no longer a tomboy and kind of hate Miracle Whip. My dad is retired and the Ford is long gone. We both have lower back issues, which keep us from shooting hoops. Time has undoubtedly past; we’ve undoubtedly changed.
It can be hard to schedule time together, but where there’s a great daddy-daughter relationship, there’s a way. This past weekend, I took my dad to see the Phoenix Symphony playing the music of Queen, hoping to appeal to yesteryear and at the same time, make another memory.
And we did. Because there’s something about the music of Freddie Mercury and the connection two people can share through a mutual love of music.
By the third song of the set, “I Want It All,” wailed by Brody Dolyniuk (one hell of an impressive singer) and backed by a rock band and the symphony, we were singing along, clapping our hands, and smiling. We snapped our fingers through “Under Pressure.” We howled along with “Fat Bottomed Girls.” We got misty-eyed during “Who Wants to Live Forever.” We took bets on which songs would be in the encore (“We Will Rock You” and “We are the Champions”)—and we were right.
During the final song, we swayed together in a side hug to the beat and I wished we had lighters in our fingers. When the last note sounded through the theater, we raised our free hands to the sky, smiling—and I could’ve sworn that just for a second we were a little girl and her dad in a Ford truck singing beautiful songs into the night.