Photo by Tijs van Leur via unsplash.

Joni Mitchell’s triumphant return to the stage at the Newport Folk Festival last week has got “Both Sides Now” playing in my head for days.  It is an experience more pleasant than its predecessor earlier this month (“Baby Beluga”) but an “ear worm” nevertheless.  Joni Mitchell’s voice was part of the ether we breathed at UC Berkeley in the Sixties and just hearing the original recording brings back memories of that wonderful and difficult time. I didn’t think much about Joni Mitchell then.  She was just in the air, like the Rolling Stones, Bob Dylan, Joan Baez and the dozens of other musicians all around us.  

I hadn’t thought about her for a long time, but a video of Mitchell singing “Both Sides Now” from a chair on the Newport stage, older, with a much lower voice and a joyful expression prompted me to look into what has happened to her.  A brain aneurysm in 2015 took away her ability to speak, to walk and to play the guitar. You can read about this all over the internet right now.  What I particularly recommend, though, is the Canadian Broadcasting Company interview with Mitchell before her injury.  In it Mitchell discusses her paintings (she says she considers herself a painter first, then a musician) and the ways in which music and art are “two different languages.”  It’s fascinating.

As to the saga of my lost luggage (and thanks to those of your who wrote to me expressing your sympathy), what I learned was:  (1) don’t wait for anyone to respond to phone calls (2) don’t expect any of the forms to get read and acted upon; (3) find one or two real human beings in the airport who are willing to talk to you.  I was lucky enough to find two such women and, based on what they said, I thought it would never be found if I didn’t take action myself.  I contacted the airport police, flew to Washington DC and met up with a young officer who took me to the place my luggage was (based on its air tag and my Find My app).  Within minutes my purple carry-on was found.  Whew! I was so giddy that I asked a stranger to take this picture and he was happy to oblige.




About Alexis

Alexis Rankin Popik, author of Kiss Me Over the Garden Gate, is an award-winning short story writer whose work has appeared in The Berkshire Review and Potpourri Magazine. She has penned numerous articles about local history that have been published in Connecticut Explored and the University of Connecticut School of Law and The Hartford Seminary publications. A former union organizer, Popik traveled the country educating shipyard workers about health and safety and founded a labor-management health plan before turning to writing fiction full-time. She lives with her husband in New England.
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