The human entity that is Jane-and-Jerry started 32 years ago today, right around this time in fact (it’s 7:30 a.m.), and it didn’t start on time because it was early in the morning for a family that liked to sleep in on the weekends. So Jane stood there at the front door of a sleeping Long Island house, rapping lightly.
Our dog, Whiskey, was too old to care enough to bark. She heard Jane’s soft knocking, shambled into the foyer – Jane remembers this, looking through the front door window at the old black dog – sniffed at the air, and shambled back to bed. A few minutes later, my sister Tonette, who lived on the ground floor, not far from the front door, let my soulmate in, and ran upstairs to wake my lazy ass up.
“There’s a girl here to see you,” she said, emphasizing the ‘you’ as if the girl had somehow gotten the wrong address.
It wasn’t supposed to be a date. A week earlier the news broke that Simon and Garfunkel were playing a free concert in Central Park. Jane, me, and the other kids on the college newspaper staff universally decided that we could not miss this historic event a mere train ride away. We decided that we’d all meet at the Deer Park station then hop on the LIRR and party all the way into the city. That was the plan before Jane set about dismantling it.
Unbeknownst to me, she went to each of our friends and told them to do what they want, but to leave us (Jane and I) out of it.
So, it was a date, but I was the last person to know. We pulled into Penn Station, walked all over town, went to the Dakota, stood in the place where John Lennon had been shot just months before, shared a moment of silence; walked down 42nd street, saw my first transvestite (“You sure that wasn’t a woman?” I asked, and Jane, city wise, just patted my arm). She had long, curly hair — Jane, not the transvestite — tied back in a single pigtail with curving strands at the end that looked like a scorpion stinger. We enjoyed the city together in the hours before the concert, establishing a pattern that has held up in our life together — long walks, long talks.
She had manipulated this, and at the twilight hour, as Mayor Ed Koch was introducing Paul Simon and Art Garfunkel to 500,000 people on the great lawn, I was falling into a spell that has held me ever since.
Sometimes I listen to the CD of that concert and choke up under the emotional weight of all that has happened since that day, all of it completely unpredictable for that 21-year-old young man who laid his head in the lap of that 19-year-old young woman and could not imagine or want anything beyond that place or that time or that woman’s lap.