Today is December 8. It’s a date I easily remember. It’s the date John Lennon was assassinated in front of his apartment building in New York.
But as for me, I remember it more as a day I nearly ran out of time…
Funny thing was, only sixteen days earlier, my on-again/off-again high school/college sweetheart had just given me a weird 20th birthday gift. A large, brass hourglass. WTH?
I didn’t understand it. I didn’t value the gift of the hourglass. Or the gift of time.
Back then, I was a senior at Towson University–naive Suzi Towson, if you will.
So now, it was Mr. Hourglass’s birthday. I don’t remember my gift to him.
But I do remember I couldn’t go out with him that night.
I had an assignment due for my college film class–a class I struggled with until a classmate offered to help me. She picked the time and date, so I had to go work on the film when and where she said.
She wanted to meet at her home. In one of the worst parts of Baltimore City. Druid Hill Park.
Certainly not a place tall, white, skinny, blue-eyed Suzi Towson should be walking after dark.
Not even sure why classmate Deb lived there, except that she did so with her boyfriend and a few of his large, male friends who no doubt escorted her out after dark.
Anyway, I’m sure BF was not happy I had to miss his birthday to make a film for a class.
Then again, I think he spent it with this chick who had been long chasing him, and to my knowledge, still is. (Don’t name your daughter a virtue-name, or the name of an ethereal creature of divine goodness–she’ll never live up to it.) But I digress.
I picked up the large suitcase of film equipment on loan from the university, and went to Deb’s house before dark. I was nervous about being in this part of town, so I brought my black Lab, Pepper, with me.
She waited in my yellow Dodge Colt while I went in to work on the film assignment. Pepper was a peach of a dog. Patient to wait in the car. A faithful but fierce companion.
Well, we finished up the film, and it was time for me to leave. I was scared, so I had my car key poised in one hand, and the heavy suitcase of film equipment in the other as I set out the door of the three-story row house.
I parked a block away.
After crossing the street, I saw a man come out of the shadows close to where I had just crossed.
He studied me as I walked toward my car, but not for long.
Instead, he started running. Toward me.
The chase was on…
My guardian angel must have been with me that night because I flew. Despite the heavy suitcase of film equipment.
I was able to get the key into the car door. As I did so, the dog sensed danger and began barking.
I threw the suitcase into the passenger seat, climbed behind the wheel and slammed the door.
Just as I went to manually lock the door, the man’s hand was grabbing the door handle.
The man kept tugging at the handle as I started the car and threw it into drive. Pepper barked and bared teeth.
As I pulled away into the dark night, I was shaking.
And then the radio station cut into the music for a special report.
John Lennon was dead. Shot down in front of his building at the age of 40.
(At the time, 40 seemed kind of old. I mean, I knew Lennon had died way too early, but 40 was still a distant concept.)
Later that night, I studied the hourglass on the shelf over my desk.
Along with Lennon, it could have just as easily been me that night, dispatched to my maker on a city street.
And things like birthday gifts and college assignments and film equipment–they fill the time between birth and death.
But it’s those we share our lives with who matter most.
So are the days of our lives.
Susan J. Anderson
Foxy Writer Chick