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Elvis and Ginger by Ginger Alden

Elvis and Ginger

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Elvis and Ginger by Ginger Alden
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Sep 02, 2014 | 400 Pages
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    Sep 02, 2014 | 400 Pages

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Author Essay

One September afternoon in 2001, I was standing on the side porch of my home in New York. The school year had just begun and I was waiting for the yellow bus that usually came roaring up our street at this time to bring my son, Hunter, home.

When the bus arrived at the end of our driveway, the doors swung open and Hunter jumped out, racing toward me wearing a pair of oversize sunglasses he had taken with him earlier that morning. “Some of the kids on the bus were calling me Elvis!” he exclaimed breathlessly. “Who’s Elvis?”

I was surprised that children as young as mine would know who Elvis was. Hunter’s question caught me off guard. I wasn’t prepared to reveal an extremely special relationship in my life to my son, whose birth seven years earlier had been scheduled for August 16, the same day Elvis died. Hunter arrived four days late, sparing me the irony of having such a happy event coincide with the date of such a tragic event in my life.

That afternoon, I told Hunter the simplest truth. “Elvis was a very famous entertainer,” I said. I breathed a sigh of relief when he ran inside, seemingly satisfied with my response.

As the year progressed, however, Hunter occasionally asked me more questions about Elvis: “What kind of hairstyle did he wear?” “What kind of music did he sing?”

I knew these questions had to be prompted by conversations at school. Still, I kept my answers short and simple, knowing one day I’d have to say more.

By the end of that school year, I had decided to tell Hunter a little about Elvis and me. I didn’t know quite how to begin. It felt strange to talk with him about a man I’d loved long before meeting his father.

Not knowing what my son’s reaction would be, I was a little nervous and felt an involuntary tremble. I hadn’t talked about Elvis in a long time. “This person you’ve been asking about, Elvis, well, Mommy knew him,” I said and then paused. I wasn’t feeling comfortable enough to tell him that Elvis and I had been engaged, so I simply added, “Elvis was a very nice man I met long ago. He was someone who loved to sing and make people happy.”

I waited for any questions, but he just said, “Cool!” and as he went off to play, I began to feel that all of my apprehension about opening up this conversation with him was unnecessary. For him it was simple. For me, it was profoundly complex.

I had written down my memories of Elvis not long after he passed away as a way of holding on to them. I felt I had to grant a few interviews at various times, but I always kept the true, complete story and intimate details of our time together to myself. I went forward with my life, but over time, I was shocked and hurt to see that speculations, exaggerations, and complete untruths regarding Elvis, me, and our relationship were unjustly being told by a few people who had been around Elvis—people I’d barely gotten to know and some I hardly knew at all. Some of their stories were then picked up and spread by other writers for their own Elvis biographies. Many books have sensationalized and even fictionalized Elvis as being depressed and in a downward spiral during his last year of life. However, the Elvis that I knew was not the way he was portrayed in the media. He saw his relationship with me as a new beginning and was excited about both the relationship and what the future would bring for the two of us.

I knew I had a story to tell, but understood that the truth about my relationship with Elvis was one that would require a great deal of time and emotional energy to write.

When I gave birth to my son, I devoted my time to him, as he became my number one priority. I felt I couldn’t be there for him as a mother if I chose to write such an intensely personal book. When my son went off to college, I felt the time was finally right, so I began putting together my memoirs. This proved to be an all-encompassing and extremely emotional journey.

Elvis allowed many people in and out of his life, all of whom he developed different relationships with as his needs and desires evolved over the years. I was the last serious love he would let into his heart. Our meeting was a wonderful accident that turned into a life-altering nine months as I got to know a very complicated, intense man. The reasons I fell in love with Elvis don’t fit neatly into a tidy, easily categorized list; they were things I felt my heart was telling me: I wanted to marry Elvis and spend my life with him because I loved him for his good heart and generous, kind spirit.

This book is about the steep learning curve of a woman in love with—and loved by—a man who most of the world could experience only from afar. Elvis could be difficult at times, but for me, his goodness and loving spirit greatly outweighed any faults.

I experienced a great deal during my short but jam-packed months with Elvis, and our love story goes beyond any normal description.

Simply put, it’s nearly impossible to understand what it’s like to be pulled into the orbit of a man as powerfully charismatic as he was. Elvis had his own gravity, and his universe was unlike anything the average person is likely to experience or even come into brief contact with, other than a few select people in history lucky enough to be around supernova personalities or achievers who touch down on our planet from time to time.

When I first met Elvis, I was a young, impressionable woman who had just turned twenty. ?He was ­forty-?­one and wanted to teach me many things. ?One of the lessons he taught me that proved to be the most valuable during the painful months following his death was this: If something bothers you or if people are saying untrue things about you, “Kill it and get it behind you,” Elvis advised me.

He was always quick to point out that it’s far healthier to let things go than to dwell on them if they make you angry or unhappy. ?He would refer to some less annoying things as “pure Mickey Mouse shit,” usually adding, “There’s a bigger picture out there.”

This was powerful advice, coming from a man whose sensitive nature would not always allow him to follow that wisdom.? However, although I clung to his rule of “Kill it and get it behind you” as tightly as I could after his death, it would ultimately prove to be impossible for me to remain unscathed by the gossip, rumors, and lies after Elvis was gone.

Some people even dared to dismiss the last year of Elvis’s life as a runaway train toward suicide. There is a ­well-?­known saying, “If you can’t carve your place in history by virtue of your own talent, perhaps you can make it by assassination,” and that was the path some people unfortunately chose to take in books and interviews after Elvis passed away.

This mistaken image of Elvis hurt me deeply, as I knew firsthand that his world, during our time together, continued to be mainly filled with love, sensitivity, brilliance, humor, and generosity. I’m not claiming to be an Elvis expert, but I got to know him intimately, in a way that few have.

Elvis, a multifaceted man, with his passion for music; thirst for knowledge; and deep love for family, friends, and fans, was not a depressed, run-down man.? Far from it: Elvis was a man who was excited about life and enthusiastically making plans for the future as he endeavored to transform his dreams into a ­reality—?­a reality that included marrying me.

Elvis, you and I know the truth about our time together. ?Unfortunately, you’re not here to set the record straight. With this book, I will try to do so.? Better late than never.

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