Pacific Northwest Interlude: A Song. A Journey. A Metaphore and a Memory

Sitting at the kitchen table, I can see my daughter, Erin and her husband watching a mute TV while a song is playing on an iTunes mix.  Bob is a musician.  He plays the drums and he has an encyclopedic knowledge of most kinds of music I could ever run across in my lifetime.  I think it’s safe to say that he can speak with authority about a vast realm of music with the exception of Armenian Wedding tunes or ancient Celtic hymns to a rock.  From my vantage point, I cannot see my exhausted wife on the futon, holding her Kindle Fire on her chest but unable to read it because she is fast asleep.

The song Bob is playing on his mix is a Dylan tune from years ago.  He knows I love The Bob, but he does too.  (What’s there not to like about a Dylan song from his most creative period?).

This particular song is “Boots of Spanish Leather”.  As I listen, I am thinking back to a time, almost twenty years ago when I was sitting in an authentic Speakeasy bar on Madison Ave. in New York City.  I had just started teaching at a small Private school on the Upper East Side.  This person was my co-teacher in the sixth grade.  She has since moved on to another school and I retired  about eight years ago.  She was very close to my wife and myself.  We ate dinner nearly every Sunday night.  But we moved away and moved on.  We still see her when we visit NYC several times a year.

My friend and I were having an afternoon snack at this old Speakeasy.  It was called The Madison Pub…but don’t go looking for it.  It’s long gone now.  The last time I passed by, it was a bridal boutique.

We sat at a table with a red and white checkered board pattern tablecloth.  I put a dollar into the juke box and picked out a few Dylan songs.  One was “Boots of Spanish Leather”.  I hear the words tonight and I think back to that afternoon…and most importantly, I think of the journey my wife and I just completed (or half completed to be more accurate…we have to drive back home soon).

Is there something I can send you from across the sea,

From the place that I’ll be landing?

For Dylan, it was the sea.  For me, it was the endless prairie.

That I might be gone a long time

And it’s only that I’m askin’,

Is there something I can send you to remember me by,

To make your time more easy passin’.

I doubt that my friend knew what states I drove through.  She’s only a mere acquaintance now.  But at a time before I got sick, we three were fast friends.

So take heed, take heed of the western wind,

Take heed of the stormy weather.

And yes, there’s something you can send back to me,

Spanish boots of Spanish leather.

I’m with the people I love now, my daughter’s family, my grandson, my wife.  And many, many friends have followed my blogs “Travels” on FB or WordPress.

Every now and again, someone creeps into my memory.  Someone who was close to Mariam and myself.

My journey, the song’s lyrics, my recollections can sometimes form a unique synergy.

The Rand McNally Atlas spread out on the table in front of me shows our route here and points out my way home.  But my mind is stretched to its limit when I think of the web of routes and roads and paths and highways and trails that somehow, in a way I’ll never wrap my mind around, link us all together.

Yes, to dance beneath the diamond sky with one hand waving free,

Silhouetted by the sea, circled by the circus sands,

With all memory and fate driven deep beneath the waves,

Let me forget about today until tomorrow.

–Mr. Tambourine Man


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