“Cathedral Bells Kept Time”
Nanci Griffith made that observation in her song/reminiscence; “Three Flights Up”.
I lived it…
…for a while.
I’m an unrepentant, nay, make that a gleeful old hippie. If you don’t know the term…look it up…please!
In my college years and early twenties my friends and I generally lacked;
- Computers, laptops, cell phones, fitbits, I-pads or pods, thumb drives…
- More than three TV channels
- Multi-tasking urges
- Regular haircuts
- Pizza delivery (don’t laugh, gasp – it’s basic human right in my book)
It was a nightmarish time; a time to survive and be made stronger by surviving.
We didn’t have reality shows. We had reality.
We didn’t have social media. We had each other.
To quote Ms. Griffith’s song again;
“There were blinking pictures
Of how we’d sit and chat.
Some of them are scattered
Some are shattered in my mind.”
I remember many all-night random congregations over kitchen tables in shabby apartments. Discussions that originated at that evening’s rehearsal, or that evening’s aprés rehearsal session at the Paddock Club, and then continued after hours, sometimes till dawn.
Bob Dylan nailed it in his “Dream”.
“I dreamed a dream that made me sad,
Concerning myself and the first few friends I had.
With half-damp eyes I stared into the room
Where my friends and I spent many an afternoon,
Where we together weathered many a storm,
Laughin’ and singin’ till the early hours of morn.”
Earnest discussions, at times lubricated by beer and wine and carry-out burgers from Tolly-Ho.
We solved everything and solved nothing.
We knew everything and knew…about the same.
“As easy as it was to tell black from white,
It was all that easy to tell wrong from right.”
We basked in the surety of our opinions about, Vietnam, the draft, Artaud, Edgar Rice Burroughs, John Prine, Richard Nixon, Malcolm X, Ginger or Mary Ann; every burning issue of the day.
We were most sure of each other.
We listened to each other. We didn’t check our phones or email. We didn’t channel-surf. We didn’t update our Facebook page. We didn’t fact-check each other’s lies/stories. We listened and were entertained and, I think, mostly enlightened by each other’s presence.
“Cathedral bells kept time.”
Yes. Usually, we were in no hurry to part.
Last night a small group of people representing almost 400 years of friendship gathered with Janie and me at the house, ostensibly to celebrate Halloween, but really to celebrate each other. Dinner was great, Janie’s Halloween decorations were over the top, and the conversations were finally suspended (not ended, mind you…suspended) by the chime of Christ the King Church ringing 2:30am (I drift happily and deliberately from verisimilitude here, but you get the idea).
We solved everything and we solved nothing.
We still know everything and we know…even less.
Checking in once more with Mr. Dylan…
“I wish, I wish, I wish in vain
That we could sit simply in that room again
Ten-thousand dollars at the drop of a hat
I’d give it up gladly if our lives could be like that.”
As nice as it was…I’m glad I didn’t have to fork over the $10,000 though.