Sunday, August 25, 2013

For A Dancer

Keep a fire burning in your eye
Pay attention to the open sky
You never know what will be coming down

I don't remember losing track of you
You were always dancing in and out of view
I must have thought you'd always be around
Always keeping things real by playing the clown
Now you're nowhere to be found

I met Ellen in 1974 at a dance party at my house near Boston. Several friends and I were living there while in law school. She and I danced all night, dated for a few months and then lived together for about a year in Framingham. It all ended on a Sunday morning at Logan Airport. I was heading for a year of tax law at Emory in Atlanta. She was going to a wedding after dropping me off. We were supposed to be going to that wedding together, but stuff happens. I still see her in that dress, beautiful as I ever remember her, even with the tears flowing down her face. When the end comes, it just bludgeons. Three years ago I heard from a mutual friend that she lost a long battle with cancer. She died alone, never married, never had kids, never had that life she once dreamed about...probably with me. When the end comes, it just bludgeons.
I don't know what happens when people die
Can't seem to grasp it as hard as I try
It's like a song I can hear playing right in my ear
That I can't sing
I can't help listening

And I can't help feeling stupid standing 'round
Crying as they ease you down
'cause I know that you'd rather we were dancing
Dancing our sorrow away
No matter what fate chooses to play
there's nothing you can do about it anyway

Fast forward, August, 2013. I heard Jackson Browne's, For A Dancer, in the car yesterday and there she was again, all dressed up, looking beautiful, her eyes filled with all of those tears....the ones I had so heartlessly given to her. This time, I reciprocated.
Keep a fire for the human race
Let your prayers go drifting into space
You never know what will be coming down
Perhaps a better world is drawing near
And just as easily it could all disappear
Along with whatever meaning you might have found
Don't let the uncertainty turn you around

That was one hell of a dance party. There were at least 150 people from three different law schools with assorted roommates and friends, all dancing in unison in that broken down house right next to a Catholic church in Newton Centre. The neighbors called the police to complain about being old, but with a house full of lawyer-wannabies, they never stood a chance. We had other problems, anyway. It was at the very beginning of the disco years and there was a contingent of the disco cult there who kept trying to sneak in this odd sounding disco crap instead of our rock and roll dancing drunk music. That's how Ellen and I met, guarding our Rolling Stones from the beautiful people.

Memories sneak up on me way too often these days.

Into a dancer you have grown
From a seed somebody else has thrown
Go on ahead and throw some seeds of your own
And somewhere between the time you arrive
And the time you go
May lie a reason you were alive
But you'll never know

1 comment:

skyprince said...

I now recall what a poet you are. This is a very touching and sad story. Thanks for sharing!