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Golden Years

They first met at the studio on Matherson Road where gold discs lined the walls among photographs of musicians from the past and present, and where every object from the ceramic pieces grouped thoughtfully in three’s on side tables and benches, to the olive-green sofa she was sitting on suggested real style doesn’t fade and certainly never dates. She had just turned twenty-three and was nursing a hangover from the evening before. She saw him standing in the corner next to a photograph of a tall, slender man holding a trumpet to his lips, back arched and head tilted backwards as though caught in the moment before he was just about to play. He turned to look at the photograph and studied it as if he knew who the trumpet player was, and then looked towards her and smiled. He was hiding his face behind a long, floppy fringe which he ran his fingers through like a comb and tucked behind his ear, revealing the most intriguing eyes she had ever seen. Beautiful, kind, yet curious and ready to take on the world, she figured they were the sort of eyes that could get him both in or out of trouble. That was almost twenty years ago, before they were famous, before he couldn’t walk two steps without signing an autograph or being surrounded by a group of twenty-something girls, and before her Manager had talked her into dyeing her hair blonde and changing her name from Vanessa Burke to Parker Reed.

Today he is siting across from Parker in a restaurant not far from that old studio, slurping his way through a steaming bowl of ramen and sipping a Japanese beer. David Bowie’s Starman suddenly starts to play, loudly, too loudly, before someone turns the volume down. His wife is sitting next to him, a photojournalist who is more influential and talked about than most of the people she photographs. Everyone knows their story, how she caught his eye backstage one night, vintage Leica camera in hand capturing candid moments of a band and it’s entourage winding down and celebrating their high after a particularly energetic show. “No posing, forget I’m here” she kept saying as she peered through the viewfinder and clicked away at the shutter button. He loved the way she looked, effortlessly chic in a pair of dark-denim Calvins, white t-shirt, tan leather jacket and a Hermès scarf around her neck, a hint she was from a different part of town than everyone else; and he loved the way she moved around the room, slowly, gracefully and completely at ease. She went home with him that night and never really left, even when she did leave him and herself for a while in a serious of short and failed marriages, before returning to herself and to him once again.

He has an old notebook with him full of Polaroids, tales and observations from his life on the road which his wife wants him to turn into a book. Parker wrote a bestseller herself a few years back and tells him he should write a book of short stories as there hasn’t been enough tragedy or scandal in his life to fill a memoir. “I’m not sure that I’m a good enough writer” he grumbles, as he throws his chopsticks into his bowl of Ramen, flicking the broth on the lapel of his jacket. Parker laughs and tells him that although it sounds clichéd she has always thought his songwriting was more like poetry. “Try reading your lyrics out loud instead of singing them and you’ll know what I mean” she says. His wife agrees and kisses him lightly on his cheek. At this moment Parker realises just how much she loves them, how she would do anything for them and can’t imagine her life without them. He smiles and motions his bottle of Japanese beer towards both of them in a silent “Kampai” as David Bowie’s “Golden Years” starts to play.

Image: photograph by Alexandra Nataf for Unconditional Magazine.
Visit: @alexandranataf on Instagram
Visit: unconditionalmagazine.com

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