Friday, November 11, 2016

Life marker

It was 1967 and a hot June day.

I was finishing my senior year in Lowell College (now University). My college prof needed a ride home to Cambridge which was a bit beyond Reading where I lived. We talked about a lot of things including Chaucer, his son, my future plans and life in general on the ride into the city.

I dropped him off at his flat and then proceeded to get lost in Boston. Still not sure how I crossed the Charles River without noticing it.

The windows of my oversized Ford were open leaving it still hot. The radio was playing. Than I heard a song I'd never heard before.

Suzanne takes you down to her place near the river
You can hear the boats go by
You can spend the night beside her
And you know that she's half crazy
But that's why you want to be there
And she feeds you tea and oranges
That come all the way from China
And just when you mean to tell her
That you have no love to give her
Then she gets you on her wavelength
And she lets the river answer
That you've always been her lover
And you want to travel with her
And you want to travel blind
And you know that she will trust you
For you've touched her perfect body with your mind. 

The words and melody touched me. It was years before I heard it again. By then I knew and loved Cohen's music.

Fast forward to July 4, 2013.

Another hot day followed by a warm, warm night in Montreux, Switzerland.

Stravinsky Hall was packed. We found a place to sit on the floor at the back. My friend Julia had hurt her foot and couldn't stand. We weren't about to give up seeing Cohen no matter what.

He sang for almost three hours. Each time there was a break he skipped off the stage. He said he wanted to outdo Springsteen's performance time in Geneva shortly before. Cohen won the time battle.

Listening to him sing "Suzanne" I was transported back decades to a hot day.

When someone 82 dies, one shouldn't be surprised. Still it hit me in the stomach. Whenever the world loses a cultural icon there is sadness.

My husband brought up his Hallelujah and we held each other, our own tribute.

A great talent has skipped out of our lives leaving his mark.

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