Like Music


montana_500

It was back when we all had plenty of time.
A late night call. I was up. Scribbling something unmemorable in a spiral notebook under the circular pool of light cast by a metal gooseneck lamp.

The caller ID said Los Angeles. I remembered the number. Even after two years of never seeing it at all. So I picked up the phone. And then as if the conversation had never stopped, you said, “So come to Denver tomorrow.”

“Peachface?”

Your laugh. Like a bubbling fountain lit with the colors of a soul born wise. “So I’m still just fruit to you, huh?”

“Fruit, famous bimbo, circus clown . . . “ I heard background noise, a piano, cranked up a notch. Somebody was singing something. There was a crowd. “Where are you, Melon?”

“I’m at Warren Zevon’s house.”

“What’s he like?”
“Intense.”

“I’ll bet. So, I gotta tell you. This is a surprise. How’s work going?”

“I got another TV series.”

“That’s wonderful! Congratulations!” She filled me in on the production deal. The premise. The characters. “That is really great.”

And then she said it again. “Come to Denver.”

“When?”

“Now.”

“Listen Lemon-Lime, I can’t just go flying off to Denver! I gotta work. Tomorrow there’s a meeting on the IPO and I . .”

“Oh yeah. I forgot. You’re like Mr. Software Executive, can I get you some coffee sir, oh of course I’ll sit down and sir, why are you touching me there . . . . .”

“Yeah that’s a normal day.”

“Do you like it?”

“It’s okay. We’re going public soon and I’m cashing out. So there will be a little bit of money if a rainy day ever comes. A rainy month, not so much. But a few good days.”

“Okay, then you really gotta come to Denver.”

“ Kiwi, it’s been two years since that one weekend in Chicago. And you really want me to come to Denver. Why Denver?’

“Cause there’s this cabin. Way north. But we start driving at Denver. Cabin belongs to a friend of a friend. I’m gonna start work on the new series soon. So I thought. . . .okay, I know I didn’t return a call or two, but then I remembered how weirdly normal you are. . . .and if we went out cross country skiing and met a bear? I’d need somebody there who could out-talk the bear.”

Denver was a regular stop in my travels for work. I knew the flights. While we talked, I reached for a book people used to have that listed airline flights.

“So you really want me to come to Denver? You’d risk a whole, TV and movie star seen with a nobody thing?”

“Roger, are you gonna go all ‘star is born’ on my ass? Walk into Lake Michigan and take the big drink” Force me into playing Barbara Streisand? You know I don’t want to be Barbara Streisand.”

“I know. You want to be Lucy. I remember. So you’re sure you want me to come?”

“Why are you asking me that question? You’re still a guy, right? That same batshit crazy cocktail of macho and sensitive I remember? That time in the Four Seasons in Chicago? You remember I was the loud one? And how much more fun showers were when you had company? You are still a guy, right?”

I answered, “6:00 arrival. Denver International. United Flight 545. Tomorrow night.”

And I hung up the phone.

This was back when we all had plenty of time. Everything seemed so easy. And no one knew it wouldn’t always be that way.

Barreling down the runway the next afternoon, strapped in wheels up. A straight shot through the sky to Denver amazed at how easy it was to just go. The one thing I always did was make sure to have people who could be in charge around me at work. So now they were. Back then there was no Black Berry, on or off the grid, 24×7.

So the world faded as the plane climbed, and the songs in my head started up.

The Isely Brothers. “If you leave me a hundred times. A hundred times I’ll take you back.”

Then, landing in the snowstorm, so the music stopped for a moment. She was in the corner of the gate by herself. Not looking like a movie star; just looking bright-eyed happy. One open palm wave. Then a slow motion walk, holding back a magnetic pull. She sticks out her hand as if to shake and then busts loose; jumping up to wrap her legs around my waist and the only word I remember after that was “Hi.”

The car was in her name. I remember the look on the rental car guys face when he handed me the keys. A look that said, “Damn I wish I was you.”

Then out to the starry Rocky Mountain night. “As soon as you got here it stopped snowing,” she said. She put the mix tape she had made into the slot as we began the winding road up to the pine trees, and Bob Dylan sang as we talked. We missed not a beat of the silent two years. Everything was easy when we talked. Dylan sang

“If you go where the snowflakes storm, when the rivers freeze and summer ends”

And the pines sang a private melody all our own.

Her Dad had been a DJ, and she had been making mix tapes since she was five years old. Driving up further into the mountains, it was as if her music let us own the road. Lowell George sang

“All, all that you dream, comes through shining, silver lining”

As we glided up into that starlit night, the song flowed into Frank Sinatra singing

“You are the promised kiss of springtime, that makes the lonely winter seem long.”

Then Bonnie Raitt…

“You made me leave my happy home, you took my love and now you’re gone”

And just for one instant, looking at a giant boulder that had tumbled down the side of the mountain and feeling the rush of the Big Thompson stream cascading in the darkness to the side of the highway, just for one second, I could see a time when it wouldn’t always be this easy. But that faded fast, as Nick Lowe and Dave Edmunds bopped along, asking
“Heart, why are you pounding like a hammer? 
Heart, why are you beating like a drum?

We talked some more about the premise of her show. How much she was going to able to be herself. A lot more than last time. But not as much as the next time. Back when we all had plenty of time, the conversation always stopped at any talk of future.

On into the mountains and the night. The talk and the music so easy, the rhythm we had together was so warm, that she fell asleep, leaving me with directions to the cabin. We pulled in at the dawn, having been up all night. A private little jewel of luxury nestled in a circle of pine trees. Not a neighbor in site. Five miles from the nearest town. A view past the circle of pines out across the tops of the mountains, the golden light of coming day rising with the sun.

“Wake up little TV girl,” I leaned over and kissed her forehead. “We’re here.”

As her eyes opened to the first light of the sun, the knowing wisdom in the old Kris Kristofferson song ended her mix,

“I have seen the morning
Burning golden on the mountains in the skies.
Aching’ with the feelin’
Of the freedom of an eagle when she flies. . .

I don’t know the answer to the easy way
She opened every door in my mind.
But dreamin’ was as easy as believin’
It was never gonna end.
And lovin her was easier than anything I’ll ever do again.”

Back when we all had plenty of time.

Back when we had time.

*********
Photo Credit: Paws Up Montana

4 Responses to “Like Music”

  1. toritto Says:

    Isley Brothers! I saw them at the Brooklyn Paramount – a long, long time ago! 🙂

    (You make me wanna shout!)

    Regards

  2. chicagoguy12 Says:

    Frank–You have heard the MUSIC!

  3. tunedincoaching Says:

    I haven’t read an entire blog…..in a long time…….I always have plenty of time for great writing , thanks Roger!

    • chicagoguy12 Says:

      Thanks Jennifer! I never really know if anybody is reading this stuff–so the comment means a lot. Hope you are doing well!

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