Thursday, December 09, 2004

Strawberry Fields Fields Forever

"Let me take you down 'cause we're going to Strawberry Fields. . ."

I was sitting on a bench along Central Park West yesterday (December 8). I had walked down from Central Park and needed a moment to rest the aching muscles in my back and legs. I sat near a woman with a lovely Benjii-type dog, who ignored both me and lovely dog while she talked loudly on her cell phone - about how she didn't want to be responsible for the stranger who had collapsed in the Park - just because she had called the information into "911". Several people passed, taking no notice of me, sitting alone. The sun was bright; it wasn't cold; and I was just enjoying being somewhere with no phone, no computer, no fax.

I saw a pretty young woman, twenty-something, nicely dressed, long blonde hair, walk by me and look into the park entrance. She seemed hesitant about going in - even in broad daylight. She walked a few steps up Central Park West and then turned around and walked back in my direction. She looked at me, smiled and said, "I like your pin." I was wearing my John Lennon picture button. I smiled back and said, "Thanks."

She again walked towards the park entrance and then stopped, turned around and walked back to me - the old lady wearing the Lennon pin and sitting on a park bench. All I needed was a bag of birdseed to attract the pigeons and I would have been the stereotype. She smiled again, "Maybe you know. What's the easiest way to get to Strawberry Fields?"

I told her it was best to just walk up Central Park West to 72 Street and make a right into the park. But she didn't leave. She wanted to talk to me.

"When I was in elementary school, every year on December 8, I would wear black," she said looking down at me, young, pretty, and very very earnest.

"You couldn't have been born then," I said.

"I was one year old when he died," she answered. "My daughter was ten," I said.

And then as if she had to explain why she loved John Lennon, she said, to this stranger, "I'm not very religious or anything. I just think that there are some people in this world who shape values. I think he was one of them who shaped mine."

"Mine, too," I agreed. After discussing our and what would have been John's disappointment in the recent election, she left me, walking up Central Park West to Strawberry Fields.

I watched her quick walk up the street. I was once young and could walk that fast. That was when John Lennon was still alive, still singing, still protesting injustice.

I just hope somewhere John realizes that his legacy lives on, not just in song, but in values.

Strawberry Fields Forever.


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