When I was a kid, you could not have told me that I would marry a man with a tattoo.
In the 1970s, tattoos only appeared on the body parts of sailors and hoodlums, bikers and rapscallions. Marlon Brando in On the Waterfront — he was the tattoo type. No way. Stay away.
But we have all grown up. I certainly have. And on the first night we spent together, seeing this tattoo on the Chef was the clinching moment. I already felt myself falling in love with him. But when I saw John Lennon on his arm, I surrendered. Here was my love.
He didn’t know I took this, several months ago. He was sleeping sweetly after I rose to make us coffee. In the mornings, nothing makes me happier than turning toward him in our sleepy state and seeing his face for the first time that day. He always smiles when he sees mine. But lately I have been waking earlier than he does — too many ideas rumbling round in my mind — and so I kiss his forehead, climb over him in the bed, and go into the kitchen for a little time alone. Mostly because, when I come back, I see this.
How could I not want to be with a man who had Imagine tattooed on his arm?
Since we met, John and Yoko keep popping up in our lives. We meet other people with love stories intertwined with the Beatles. People who love Beatles’ music speak the same language. Doors open. We embrace it.
At our wedding, we played entire swaths of Beatles’ songs. “In My Life” played just before the music stopped, and we each walked down the stairs, one after the other with our parents at our sides, to marry each other in front of the people we love. I heard it, from my bedroom, and I knew it was real.
Halfway through the afternoon, Sharon stood up to the microphone and asked everyone to sing with us. “Imagine” came on next. Not everyone sang. Some did not know the words. Some people were a little embarrassed. But most of us raised our voices, and sang those words, up through the trees, toward the skies.
We will never forget that moment.
When we were in Rome, on our honeymoon, we heard that song again. It was a late Sunday morning, and we were walking through the Campo dei Fiori. For months, I had been reading about the farmers’ market there, and we wanted to sample fresh succulence. Unfortunately, it was closed. Sunday.
Just as we were about to leave, we turned to see young men in white shirts, with giant red handprints on their chests. They were walking toward a tiny piazza, just off the Campo. We followed, intrigued by their signs.
We walked into a tiny clutch of people, standing in the heat, sweat running down their faces. African men — some of the same ones we had seen selling knock-off purses in front of the Pantheon the day before — were gathered to protest the inaction the world is taking in Darfur.
The Chef and I stayed, to look at the photographs on posterboards (and so did this little girl) attached to the side of a white van. We stood, taking photographs, and not talking, as a crowd of Italian men and women marched into the square, chanting words we did not comprehend, but we knew. We were moved to tears by the hands in the air, begging people to not look away.
“Imagine all the people, living in peace…you may say I’m a dreamer, but I’m not the only one.”
As the low piano notes rumbled out of the loudspeakers, the Chef and I looked at each other, amazed. There we were, in Rome, surrounded by strangers who felt like family, hearing our song. We stood there, our feet solid on cobblestones, singing that song with a different group of people.
That moment — and the sense of spontaneous solidarity we felt with people there — is one of our most amazed memories of the honeymoon.
On Saturday morning, we will be in Central Park together, for the first time. At 11:30, we will be standing near the Imagine sign. And we’d really like for you to join us.
We are on the edge of our seats, excited about the trip this weekend. We cannot wait to meet people at the Colin Leslie walk. We both flutter a little when we think of teaching the cooking class together at Whole Foods. (Sign up soon, if you want to go. Seats are going fast! And the price of admission includes a copy of the book.) But it’s when we think about standing at Imagine that we are most humbled and silent.
After much consideration, we have decided to postpone the dinner at Sambuca on Sunday. Those folks are amazing, and we’ll definitely be doing an event there soon. (This certainly isn’t the only time the Chef and I will be in New York together.) But we decided that we didn’t want to hold an event that overlaps (and possibly interferes) with the walk. We didn’t want to overextend ourselves.
Besides, we really would like to see people in Central Park.
Consider this a happening (although we promise to not be in a bag). Think of this as the east-coast version of our wedding. Bring gluten-free food — let’s have a potluck picnic. Spread the word to every Beatles fan you know who lives near New York. We can meet each other and laugh, and fill that part of the park with joyful gluten-free community.
And if you will, we would love it if you would sing with us.
Imagine it. A world where living gluten-free is easy. Where a little book about saying yes to gluten-free can sell, without a huge publicity machine. Where people live in peace.
It’s easy if you try.
p.s. We wanted to post this today because October 9th is John Lennon’s birthday. He would have been 67 today. Happy birthday, John, and thank you. (And Yoko, if somehow you read this? We love you too.)