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Signs that Might Be Omens Say I’m Going…

May 30, 2007

THOSE WORDS ARE FROM my second favorite James Taylor song (“fire and rain” takes the top tier), Fittingly, they are a song about returning to Carolina, which is precisely where I am headed in less than 48 hours. But rather than the oft-repeated chorus that gives “Carolina in My Mind” it’s name, and from my experience its overwhelming local appeal, a line buried in the third verse describes my experiences now…

The Oxford English Dictionary has this to say about the word “Omen.”
I. Simple uses.
An event or phenomenon regarded as a portent of good or evil; a prophetic sign, an augury.
2. As a mass noun: prophetic significance; indication of good or evil to come. Freq. with modifying adjective in of good (ill, etc.) omen. Also personified.
II. Compounds. 3. omen-bearing, -hunter, hunting, -monger. omen bird, a bird used as an omen-animal. omen-animal, an animal whose behaviour or body parts are used as a way of divining future events.

It is precisely omens which I find around me in the last couple of days…There are a few strange occurrences, meaningless except for their proximity to my leaving, and their prior existence in my mind as conditions upon which I would feel it was okay to go…

1. I heard a Beetles song in public for the first time in 5 months of living in England. It was in an antiques shop on the north end of Portobello Road on last Saturday morning, which was rainy and cold. (Such is late May in London: High of 48F, 100% chance of rain, winds N-NE at 20-30mph) I stayed in the store just to listen to the song, knowing full well that I couldn’t afford any of the old biscuit tins, furniture, or jewelry he was selling, and I was delighted to find that he was playing the entire album…
Perhaps the most bizarre aspect of this omen was not that I have been thinking for months about the odd lack of Beatles merchandise, or even an open acknowledgment of their music, or any other aspect of the “British Invasion”…no, what was stranger is that the Beatles song I was hearing was a cover of Louis Armstrong’s “Sweet Georgia Brown”. I didn’t know the Beatles had even covered this song. And the geographical proximity of that woman’s name, to my home, was uncanny… (The most respectable bit of audio-visual recording of this song I can find is Anita O’day performing it at the Newport Jazz Festival in 1958…but their is something so odd about a white woman singing the praise of a black woman’s body…but, it seems to escape dandy onlookers, who look rather bored.)

2. I filled the final page of my Moleskine notebook…I wish I could stay I begun it when I got to London. Alas it was a month and a half later, or so…until then I was using an old notebook that was begun back stateside. However, flipping through it is a veritable recap of my journey here through a particularly beautiful aspect to me…the fragments of life i found so inspiring that I had to make note of them immediately, and new ideas that came surging into my head, or sketches of train passengers or birds, street names, beginnings of poems, etc… So, I bought a new notebook, and listed my American address inside the front cover. The smell of newly exposed paper is sweet…

3. The roses bloomed in Regent’s Park. I have been sitting vigil from time to time in the circle of sticks bordering a pond over the last months…waiting… Well, the glory has come! Yesterday, every known color of beautiful rose, sweet-smelling and aptly, poetically named by shiny black plaques were there waiting for me…

4. My map of London fell apart at the binding. I live on page 38, for the record.

5. Yesterday, after my jaunt through the roses, I sat down in the library, and looked up to find a rainbow painted in the sky just above a few flats built in a typical Northwest London style…all brick with piped vents emerging from the roof line…

I think sweet Londontown is saying to me, “It’s okay now…you can go.” (But when I need her, I’ll be back.)

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