Lost and Found

I met her at a small bar down the street from CBGB’s, and if I could remember the name of the bar, I’d write it here.  If I could remember her name, I’d write that, too.  I think, though, that I was on my  way to CBGBs when I realized that I didn’t particularly like punk rock nor did I have a punk rock look or attitude.  I just wanted to check it out.   In April of 1983,  CBGB’s was a legendary place, of course, and I wanted to see it.  Sad thing is…it may have been CBGB’s that I entered.  It would have been a Thursday, probably.  Not much happens on a Thursday night.  Why do I think we heard Dr. John that night?

What I do remember is this.  The venue was long and narrow — like a bowling lane.   Not a bowling alley … like one lane.  Long and narrow and crowded.  What I do remember is this:   ordering a drink at the bar that ran much of the length of the wall.   She stopped at the bar on her way back to her table and asked for a glass of water.  We exchanged some small talk.  I told her I was visiting from California but originally from Colorado.  She gave me her phone number and then said that she needed to get back to her group.   She went and sat back down at a table with five guys.  A few minutes later, they got up and took the stage that was set up in the corner toward the front of the building.  I left after their first set, back into the New York night.

When I got back to California, I rolled that night around in my head as I took the scrap of paper out of my wallet and stared at the numbers.  A few weeks later, I had the opportunity to go back to NYC and I called her up to let her know.  Her dad answered.  He wanted to know who was calling his daughter, his 30 year old daughter, I might add. When she and I talked on the phone, we agreed that when I got back to the City, we’d get together.

She barked instructions to the cab driver as we headed out to get a drink.  She didn’t like the fact that he headed over to 5th Avenue right away — “it’s too slow.  Take some of the side-streets.  We don’t need to hit every light on 5th.”  He checked the rear view mirror and turned at the next street.

“So would you be interested in going to Church?  I think you would like the people.”  She handed me back the joint as she posed the question.

My mind went back a few years when I was baptized into the Presbyterian Church in downtown Colorado Springs, not motivated to take Jesus as my Savior, but instead to have a chance at dating Lisa who belonged to that church.   Lisa went her own way after my baptism and I was left with neither a girlfriend nor a sense of being born again.

“What church?”

“The Unification Church?”

“You’re a Moonie?”  they had been in the newspapers so much I had some familiarity with them.

“We don’t really like that term.  Yes, we follow the Reverend Moon.  I think you would like going.”

So this is how it is.  I had all the markings of somebody who could be recruited into the Church.  With enough drinks, with the details I had shared with her, she saw a small town guy from Colorado spiritually lost on the streets of New York City.  Who cares that I was employed by a law firm?  Who cares that I was living in a small apartment in the Village?  Those were outward signs of a stable life.  I didn’t have to be homeless or jobless to be in need of a spiritual path and a sense of belonging.  Through the smoky haze in the back of  a cab, over the loud din at the bar, in the gin-tainted breath of my words, she saw a lost soul searching for a deeper answer.

A popular bumper sticker for free-spirited souls says “All who wander are not lost.”  For me in that summer of 1983, the more accurate bumper sticker would have been “all who are lost do not wander.”  By appearances, things were fine.  I was fine.  Not lost.  Yet needing to be found.



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