My Secret Life with Leonard Cohen

Driving cross country can be tedious. Even with a steady supply of good radio stations, if the trip is long enough the mind begins to wander. On the way to the Leonard Cohen concert in St. Louis, optimistically at least a five hour drive, a scenario about Leonard Cohen popped into my head, and continued at sporadic intervals throughout the subsequent camping trip.  Every once in a while, when I glean another Cohen factoid, another piece of it spontaneously falls into place.

Scene one- somewhere in the U.S.

I arrive and Leonard greets me.  How was my trip, etc. If you need a place to stay you can crash here, and by the way, there is hot water for a shower in Leonard’s hotel suite, feel free to use it. (I know, I know, but it’s my fantasy.  Since living in Jordan, for some reason every meaningful fantasy must have hot water in it. It is somehow symbolic of being in a safe place.) I emerge refreshed and Leonard has just returned from his trailer (yeah, yeah, I know they travel by plane, but it’s my fantasy and here he has his own RV for makeup) Everyone is already eating and I join the meal in process. (If this isn’t surreal enough yet, keep reading.) The meal turns out to be a privately catered Wisconsin Door County style fish boil on the inside of a circle formed by the band’s trailers.

After the fish has been eaten, everyone gathers around the remains of the fire and starts singing. My singing voice, in real life not quite ready for primetime, is joined by the voice of Sharon Robinson and with her harmony becomes golden. As it becomes dark, more and more people gather at the fringes of the light thrown by the fire and the music ebbs and flows.  Finally we begin to spontaneously compose songs, and I find I have become a poet as well. Verse after verse is thrown into the night as an offering, fragments of despair, resolution, longing,  from every sacred tradition.

Scene two, the next morning

Leonard has been forwarded a copy of my resume (from where?  these imaginings have all the continuity of dreams!) and says he needs me as an assistant at his Jerusalem nonprofit office.  I’ll be making sure everything is culturally appropriate for the comfort of the Arab women involved,  as well as being the liaison with the Catholic social agencies where my old Jordan roomate is now working, not to mention doing the odd bit of paper shuffling, which I’m very good at as long as it’s not my own paper. The position also provides central heat, Western health insurance, unlimited hot water (yes!), and access to a huge library filled with tomes about the Middle East.

Scene 3 –Jerusalem

Leonard arrives on pilgrimage.  I see him to the monk’s quarters and sneak an argila with apple tobacco onto his balcony (it’s a no smoking facility). I offer him hot water for a shower and a nicotine patch. After dark, he steals out into the Arab section with his body guard  dressed as a bedouin, looking for some good roast lamb (Wait, isn’t he a Buddhist monk?  Should it be  felafels? But in the Arab Quarter the best evening meal is those little individual pizzas made with pita bread and egg.)

Not bad, not bad at all.  As fantasies go, it’s one of my better ones. But where DO these images come from?

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