December has been a challenging month so far. The annual budget has been hanging over my head since before Thanksgiving. When it comes to forecasting and predicting how much newsprint, ink, office supplies and utilities will cost versus how much revenue will come in from advertising and newspaper sales over the next two years, I find it painful staring at the spreadsheets on my computer, calculator in one hand and crystal ball in the other.
I made it through this budget season by keeping my eye on the prize. The budget was due Friday and as soon as I hit “send” I started packing.
My best friend Denise’s birthday is Dec. 27. She is the last of my high school classmates turning 60 this year. For the last three months we’ve been planning a special birthday celebration tonight.
I don’t use the term “best friend” casually. Denise and I go back to freshman year in high school; we go back to being Kennedy girls together in 1968; exploring New York City and Washington, D.C., together as freshmen in college; being roommates in San Francisco; spending the summer of 1971 in Europe together; participating in each other’s weddings; being auntie to each other’s children; helping each other when our parents passed on; laughing and crying together during the ups and downs; talking on the phone, writing letters, exchanging emails, texting – almost every day for almost 50 years.
We like the same music, especially the music we grew up on. Years ago we discovered a singer-songwriter named Leonard Cohen. His carefully crafted lyrics ignited long discussions over the symbolism and hidden meanings in his songs since the late 60s. His unmistakable voice sang on as we went about the business of growing older. We’ve had Leonard in our lives nearly as long as we’ve been friends.
Tonight, at the Rose Quarter Theatre of the Clouds in Portland, we will see Leonard Cohen in concert. I bought sixth-row seats the day the tickets went on sale in September.
I also wrote to Leonard Cohen’s manager. I’d just chatted with Judy Collins in Crescent City and I felt like I was on a roll. Maybe I could interview Leonard Cohen for my column! After a couple of emails back and forth, I was cc’d in an email to the venue authorizing Denise and me access to the press area tonight.
“The concert will be a treat,” his manager wrote, “and I can get you access to the band, but Leonard is not doing any press…Leonard is not meeting friends, family, fans, celebrities, other poets, or press while on tour. His show is three and one half hours, and he is performing four nights a week. In between, he travels and rests.”
Leonard Cohen’s world tour ends Saturday in Las Vegas after more than 250 performances. Cohen, who is 76, last toured 16 years ago. “I was 60 then, just a kid with a crazy dream, he says on his “Live in London” DVD.
Denise and I have been fans since 1966 but have never seen him in person. Tonight’s the night. I am still hopeful, like a kid with a crazy dream, that we’ll get a backstage glimpse of him. At the very least tonight’s concert should be the icing on Denise’s 60th birthday cake. I’ll let you know how it went.