These are some of the (massive amounts) of morning glories that grow along the old fence just outside my backdoor.
I usually get out of bed when it’s still dark out, so I don’t get to see them blooming first thing. But today, I was having such engaging dreams, and the morning was so nice and cool and my bed felt so incredibly comfortable, that I slept in. The sun was shining like crazy by the time I decided I was at last awake.
And when I went down to put the coffee on and feed the many scampering cats, I looked out the kitchen window and there they were, vines full of flowers, blooming in all their glory. Some white, most of them purple.
I love morning glories but you gotta watch out for them. Like honeysuckle, they will spring up everywhere and entwine with other flowering plants and choke the heck out of them. And then when you spend all that time trying to untangle them from whatever beloved plant they are choking, you have to be sure you’ve ripped them out by their roots, because, if you don’t, soon enough, they’ll be back, whispering to you in all their glory: Alas, I’m still here… entwining, choking, entwining, choking until autumn finally arrives and everything dies anyway.
For some reason that I haven’t been able to discern yet, my dreams this morning — which were really sort of liberating — caused me to wake up wanting to hear Neil Diamond’s version of Leonard Cohen’s song, “Suzanne”.
“Suzanne” was a huge hit on the radio when I was a little girl (1967), but it was sung, then, by Noel Harrison. For some reason, I always loved Neil Diamond’s version best, which he recorded several years later. I think because he has such a beautiful, clear voice.
I always loved the song, “Suzanne”. It’s the kind of song a little girl like me would love. I had no clue at all what the song meant but it was filled with so much captivating imagery that I assumed it was cluing me in to secret and enigmatic things about “being a girl” that I would understand when I was a very much older girl.
Of course, the song is on Youtube, so I laid in bed and listened to it on my phone several times before actually getting up today. And the song is still beautiful, still enigmatic. Yet, even all these decades later — well, I understand Jesus better; he certainly became huge in my life, enough to send me to Divinity School and become a minister. But the other stuff about Suzanne, the “girl” stuff I assumed I would understand better when I got older; I do understand it, but the main thing I understand now is that I’m half-crazy and likely to remain so. Forever.
I’m okay with it.
The Neil Diamond album that “Suzanne” is on is called Rainbow. And it’s a really nice album. He sings hit songs written by other songwriters, from 1969-1971. There are just some true gems on that album and he sings them really elegantly. (The track listing is at that link above.)
When I was 14, I played that album all the time, alone up in my room. All of those songs used to make me just wonder about life, you know? In addition to “Suzanne,” I loved his version of Buffy St. Marie’s song, “Until It’s Time for You to Go.” And “If You Go Away,” by Rod McKuen and Jacques Brel.
I guess the late 60s-early 70s approach to love could be what caused me to have such a non-possessive approach to love, too. I have just never been truly jealous or possessive. When I’ve been in love with someone who wasn’t truly available, you know — that would hurt. But that thing I posted about yesterday, about how much it means to me that the person I’m involved with have a really active life of his or her own, away from me — maybe it all stems from those attitudes towards love that were fostered in the late 1960s.
I don’t really know. It’s a thought, anyway.
That same summer that I was 14, when I played that record all the time, I was of course in love with Greg, and we had a ton of sex ; that 14 & 15 year-old sex that is overwhelming and all-consuming but I certainly knew that there was more to sex than what was going on between him and me. After my dad left us, we downsized considerably and moved into one of those trendy apartment complexes that were sort of notorious in the 1970s. Everyone there was having sex with everybody. All ages.
One evening by the swimming pool, I met an older guy. His mom, one of his brothers and his 16 -year-old sister-in-law had just moved there from Missouri. He was fresh out of prison. This was in the years when they sent you to prison for smoking pot. And he and one of his brothers had been sent to prison for that. His brother (the one married to the 16 year-old) was still in and due to get out soon.
They were really nice people. A whole hippie family, even his mom. They got high, and the guys worked construction, and the 16 year-old wife was super nice, really intelligent and just seemed so grown up to me. Of course, the guy wanted to have sex because he’d just gotten out of prison, right? I told him, upfront, that I was willing but that I was only 14, and that I didn’t think it was a really good idea. (I did not look 14, at all, so older guys (i.e., men) came on to me all the time in the 1970s.)
(I forgot to say that he and I were talking about this, about possibly having sex, with his whole family right there, getting high around the dining table, even his wonderful cool hippie mom. You know — the 1970s were just so different, gang. It was technically illegal to do sexual stuff with a minor, but nobody ever took it to the police or anything. We all did it — all my girlfriends. Sex with older guys. If/when our parents found out, they’d get angry and we’d get grounded for awhile and they’d yell at us and say “stop doing that with that guy!” but that was about it. Nobody ever got the law involved. Ever.)
But anyway. So, one of this guy’s brothers had a 16-year-old wife, so they could not care less that I was 14, because, honestly, there was just no way I looked or acted 14, and everybody just figured it was up to me to decide what I wanted to do. Even his mom said, “Honey, it’s up to you. If you want to, you want to. If you don’t, you don’t.”
He wasn’t unattractive or anything, but really I just felt sorry for him because he’d just gotten out of prison, and by age 14, I already knew that grown-up guys needed to have sex all the time. Just constantly. So I said I would think about it. And then the next night, a Saturday — my mom was off with her new boyfriend, doing her 1970s swinging divorced-thing that everyone was doing back then — I let the guy come up to my room; the room with all my rock & roll posters on the walls and my love beads hanging from the lamp, and all my poetry books and all my records and all my 14-year-old girl stuff.
I told him it was just gonna be that one time because he was too old for me and I was in love with my boyfriend, who was my age (and who, sadly, would be dead within just a few weeks).
The record we were listening to while we were smoking weed and having sex was Rainbow, by Neil Diamond.
And of course, I had forgotten all about that until this morning, when I was lying in bed, listening to Neil Diamond sing “Suzanne” and wondering about the half-crazy girl I had finally grown up to be! (The same one I already was when I was 14…)
I am just so totally okay with her being who she is — me. Of course, I sure wish Greg hadn’t been killed, but it was my life.
On another note, you know how all the bloggers are up in arms about these nefarious sites in India now that are illegally mirroring other web sites? Well, mine is one of the sites being illegally scraped and re-blogged. But, honestly, what am I going to do about it? It’s the least of my problems. My books are being illegally downloaded, sold, re-published, all over the fucking world. I gave up trying to stay on top of it, as disheartening as it all is. But the blog? The only thing that truly bothers me is that I can’t access the back end of it and find out how many hits I’m getting….
Okay, gang. Gonna go wash my hair!! Have a super Sunday wherever you are in the world. Thanks for visiting. I leave you with the soundtrack of me at the glorious age of 14. Enjoy it. I did, all things considered…
I love you, guys. See ya!
You can hear the boats go by, you can spend the night forever
And you know that she’s half-crazy but that’s why you want to be there
And she feeds you tea and oranges that come all the way from China
And just when you want to tell her that you have no love to give her
Then she gets you on her wavelength
And she lets the river answer that you’ve always been her lover
And you know that she will trust you
For you’ve touched her perfect body with your mind
And he spent a long time watching from his lonely wooden tower
And when he knew for certain only drowning men could see him
He said all men will be sailors then until the sea shall free them
But he himself was broken, long before the sky would open
Forsaken, almost human, he sank beneath your wisdom like a stone
And you think you maybe you’ll trust him
For he’s touched your perfect body with her mind
She’s wearing rags and feathers from Salvation Army counters
And the sun pours down like honey on our lady of the harbor
And she shows you where to look among the garbage and the flowers
They are leaning out for love and they will lean that way forever
While Suzanne holds her mirror
And you know that you can trust her
For she’s touched your perfect body with her mind