Island Notes 97
Mister Robbie Robertson sings…
We had dreams, when the night was young.
We were believers, when the night was young.
We could change the world, stop the war, never seen nothin’ like this before.
That was back, when the night was young.
I listen to his whispered words of recollections, a time when we were both coming of age. It seems so long ago, especially as I look down on my sixty-something frame. The warm sunset drenches my tanned, scarred legs, mementos of a life well lived, moments before the solar ball has its red splash of momentary glory. And I sip 18-year old Flor de Caña over a glacier of ice in a glass. The Nicaraguan rum slowly dissolves the ache in my arms after a long afternoon of pulling on the mainsheet, striving to keep my sailboat upright in blustery 18-knot winds. I then slide back into a chroma-tropical Adirondack to ponder when the night was young.
Smells of memories are not as fresh as before. Details evade old stories. Visions, once crystal and Technicolor clear, are faded around the edges. I can no longer track how many super bands Jeff Beck played with back in the day, and that lack of old rock factoids doesn’t bother me. I have unrealistic regret that I didn’t change the world more when I was young, but I eventually tired of constantly pushing against the mountain. I retreated to the high New Mexico desert back then and partook in small skirmishes.
But it was a good run. Robertson sings about driving Highway 61 with card sharks and drifters on the back roads. I traveled paths around the globe encountering princesses and paupers. He tells of seeing Andy Warhol in a hotel lobby, He’s waiting for his late night muse.. I got to spend an afternoon with Salvador Dali thanks to my leggy sweetheart at the time, Trudy Zelberberg. And he croons, Get your heartbeat in the right direction. That’s when you make the real connection. There are moments I got that one right and more than once—a serendipitous first meeting with mi amour at Place de la Madeleine in Paris, greeting my son into the world on a hot August desert morn, watching a full eclipse of the moon—rooftop on the Hotel Palace Garden in Luxor along the banks of the Nile, dancing with my tribe of friends in the glow of a Radium Springs bonfire in celebration of the new millennium. But much of the time when my heartbeat was right, my connection was wrong. Or the connection was broken while the heart pumped wildly with no purpose. I think that is what happens to many of us along this long journey called life. But hell, we are only human.
Robbie Robertson concludes…
Like the sun rising out of the sea,
It’s how you embrace the mystery.
But my sun is going down. So much for the mystery as the crimson ball seemingly sizzles as it touches golden Caribbean waters. I watch three flamingos in silhouette formation, fluttering home before the down island dark. Maybe they are the mystery. It doesn’t really matter. I am happy now without regret and easily drift off with old thoughts of when the night was young.