It’s one thing to read about someone’s life and death, it’s another to stand near the spot where they both lived both died. Picture this, it’s February and half the school age population of New York City flocked to the American Museum of Natural History. Add to this mix one woman from a mid-sized city. (That would be me.)
After spending a few hours at the museum, I had a baked pretzel and water for lunch, then started to walk the outer edges of Central Park. The place had a little bit of snow, but the paths had nothing, making my walk a little easier compared to the sidewalks back in Winnipeg. I debated finding a route across the park and taking the subway on the other side. Meanwhile, my eyes took in the apartments lining Central Park West, one of the toniest addressed in the big apple.
One building caught my eye. Among the mostly square structures, it stood majestically over the skyline, the sun complimenting the light beige of the stone, parts of it reminded me of the Hotel Fort Garry back home. I stopped to admire it for a moment then a strange thought occurred to me is that the Dakota? Considering the amount of information in my head, it’s easy to confuse buildings in New York. I shrugged it off and kept going. I rounded the corner of a part, went up an incline, and my answer stared at me among a small group of people giving a wide berth to something on the ground.
It was The Dakota.
I found Strawberry Fields.
On the bench, a young guy played a Beatles tune on the guitar, people singing or keeping the beat with hands or feet. I looked down at the mosaic inscribed with the word IMAGINE, a few individuals put flowers close the centre, a memorial to an English ex-pat who made New York his home. It dawned on me as I stood not far from the entrance to The Dakota, someone died here.
The guitarist began his rendition of Imagine as I looked off towards the entrance across the street. Strawberry Fields has a rotating roster of buskers playing Beatles along wth the solo work put out since their break up in ’69. I knew the name of Lennon’s shooter and refused to say it in my mind. All that music left behind and all the music yet to come if John lived. What would he say about the Republican primary? What songs would he write?
The words to Imagine took on a poignant meaning at that spot. Lennon imagined love and peace, not the selfish obsession of one man. The busker used the word ‘assassinate.’ For many 36 years ago still feels like yesterday, for a moment I am 10, watching ABC News announce the death, wondering who is this guy? Oh, he’s the guy I sang the songs he co-wrote with his mate Paul McCartney during Mrs. Hammond’s music class. He’s the guy who lived in that building with his wife and son. He took walks in Central Park, something Yoko still does, with her trademark large sunglasses according to the busker, while New Yorkers gave her a respectful distance to live her life.
John Lennon was also the guy who wrote today’s tune for Music Monday. The guy asking ‘So this is Christmas, and what have you done?’