A few years ago, I went with a friend to see Laurie Anderson perform with Anne Carson at a small venue on Avenue A. There were maybe 40 folding chairs set up for the audience. I wondered if Lou Reed would be there, but then dismissed the thought because, even though they were married (and maybe especially because of that?), it didn’t mean that Lou still had to go to all of Laurie’s performances and vice versa. But I was wrong. Lou came and he sat in the front row, directly in front of me, so that I could see every fold in his face and I could admire how long and pendulous his earlobes were, like he was the Buddha. After the performance, Lou went up to Laurie and they stood close together and talked and there in the middle of the small, black room, they looked like they thought they were the only two people in the world.
And now, a little more than a week after Lou Reed’s death, Laurie Anderson has written an essay for Rolling Stone that speaks of their love, and of Lou’s death. It’s really one of the most beautiful meditations on love and life and marriage and death that you’ll ever read, or, at least, that I’ve ever read. So, if you’re anything like me, and you occasionally need to have your faith in love or life restored, go read the essay right now. And if you manage not to cry as Laurie describes Lou’s death, well, you are a stronger person than I am. We should all get to experience the kind of love that Lou and Laurie had, at least for a little while.
“Lou and I played music together, became best friends and then soul mates, traveled, listened to and criticized each other’s work, studied things together (butterfly hunting, meditation, kayaking). We made up ridiculous jokes; stopped smoking 20 times; fought; learned to hold our breath underwater; went to Africa; sang opera in elevators; made friends with unlikely people; followed each other on tour when we could; got a sweet piano-playing dog; shared a house that was separate from our own places; protected and loved each other. We were always seeing a lot of art and music and plays and shows, and I watched as he loved and appreciated other artists and musicians. He was always so generous. He knew how hard it was to do. We loved our life in the West Village and our friends; and in all, we did the best we could do.”
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