Take My Hand, We’ll Make It I Swear

The year was 1987.

The hair was big.

The jeans were ripped.

And we were all just living on a prayer.

The Ilagan household had just gotten their first taste of cable on a television that you didn’t need to change channels manually (about five years after all the other kids had it). Say what you will about being the son of a doctor – there were hardships and lessons too. As kids, we didn’t always notice this, but the absence of MTV was a social stigma, leaving us to pretend we knew what everyone at school was talking about, faking our way through the minefields of peer-pressure and not wanting to be left out of the loop. I was pretty upfront about my ignorance, rapping along with the kids who sang Run DMC, only I was saying, “You be L.A.” instead of “You be illin’.” No one seemed to notice. That’s the thing about pretending – sometimes, if you’re really good at it, it becomes truth, and the knowledge that you never had, but that they think you possess, turns into currency, and respect. Even if it’s built on a lie, on a fucked-up lyric taken as slang.

We’ve got to hold on to what we’ve got
‘Cause it doesn’t make a difference
If we make it or not
We’ve got each other and that’s a lot
For love – we’ll give it a shot

   Whoah, we’re half way there
   Livin’ on a prayer
   Take my hand and we’ll make it – I swear
   Livin’ on a prayer

This was the time of the school year when the kids started getting crazy with homebound restlessness, and my squirrelly self was no exception. I watched this video with rapt wonder – not exactly a fan of the style (frizzed-out perms were never for me, nor should they be for anyone) – but more for the anthemic quality of wanting to fly beyond the small-town childhood so many of us longed to leave, soaring above like Jon did on stage. I wanted to take flight in such a manner, lift off the ground, see it grow small beneath my weightless feet. Propelled by a wish and a prayer…


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