PART 3 THE LOST WEEKEND
In 1972 ,the night McGovern lost the election, John and I were invited to a party at Jerry Rubin’s apartment in the Village. It was a gathering of New York liberal intellectuals, some artists, musicians and many journalists. John became totally drunk and pulled a woman into the next room and started to make love. Nobody could leave the party because all the coats were in that room. We were all sitting there trying to ignore what was happening. The wall was paper thin and you could hear the noise, which was incredibly loud. A considerate musician put a Dylan record on to offset the sound. But that did not drown out the sound coming from "the room." In the middle of all this, a New York celeb woman chose to make conversation with me. "I don’t know how you feel about him… but we love him. He and his friends… what they did… but especially John… we all respect him tremendously. He’s a great man… he is a wonderful man…" It was something like that she kept repeating to me, with an angry look as if to blame me for not rejoicing for what was happening in that room. Then there was a long silence. Some woman quietly went into the room to retrieve her coat. Others followed. When John finally came out of the room, he said, later, that he had never seen me looking so pale. "I could never forget that face," he used to say for a long while.
Something was lost that night for me. Living with John was a very trying situation. But I thought I would endure all that for our love. I used to think that our love was a secret thing between us, so it didn’t matter what people said… let them. Our love was higher than the highest sky, and deeper than the deepest water. But was it? Now it seemed that there were some clouds I hand ‘t noticed and the water looked murky after the splash. Jerry thought it was terrible that I couldn’t "forgive" John. McGovern lost. All of us were totally devastated. You can imagine how John felt about it. It was a real blow to us. So he was drunk, for heaven’s sake!" "It’s not a matter of forgiving him or not forgiving him. I would not use that word. It’s more like I can’t ‘forget’ what happened. Call me a prude, but it just hit me in the wrong way." Inside, I felt like a shattered raggedy doll.
This was the prelude to the famous "Lost Weekend". The United States Government was trying to kick us out of the country because of our political stand. John and I had pretty much burned our bridge to England, with John marrying an oriental, returning the MBE to the Queen, and being arrested for possession of drugs, though the drug had been planted. My daughter had been kidnapped by my ex-husband, I became a dragon lady in the eyes of the public, and I lost my platform to express myself as an artist. The tension was compounded by nets of intrigues spun around us by sources which were sometimes not too clear. Yet. we thought nothing was more important than how we felt about each other. We can make it. We’re making it. Yes, it’s alright! But that night made me think. It took almost another whole year for me to decide on what to do, and I did. Extraordinary circumstances call for extraordinary solutions.
There was no fight or anything. We were having a warm conversation in the afternoon in our bed. I told John that I thought a trial separation would be a good idea. "We’re both still young and attractive, it’s crazy to stay together just because we’re married. I would hate that. That’s not what we were about, was it? We should see what happens…" I tried to make light of it. "What about L.A.? I remember you telling me how you had fun on a Beatle tour…" – that sort of thing. "Okay, but I don’t want to lose you", John said. "We’d probably lose each other if we stayed", I said. I didn’t tell this to John, but I thought I would lose him. Hey, it’s John Lennon. It was obvious to everybody, except to John, that I was the loser. Every man and woman of our generation was going to be happy that finally I was not around their hero.
John was incredibly ecstatic for four days. He called me to thank me. "Yoko, you’re incredible. This is great! Thank you!" There was no sarcasm there. I was glad that he was happy. After four days he called me with a totally different voice, "I’ve had enough. I want to come home." I laughed it off. It was too soon.
Alone, I started to do my work again. Charlotte Moorman greeted me by saying, "Welcome home, genius!" That made me feel good. I knew her from way back. But in 1974, she was already a very famous figure in the avant-garde music scene. "Why are you wasting your talent, Yoko? Just forget about those horrible people. You must immediately start working. I want to put your new work in this year’s Avant-Garde Festival… This year, it’s going to be in Shea Stadium… Oh, dear, what am I saying?" We laughed. My old friends, Andy Warhol, Allen Ginsburg and Ornette Coleman took me around a lot. I met William Burroughs through Allen. It was very different from the Rock Scene. I was a person again, not a dragon lady. A young gallery owner told me that he wanted to include me in his Contemporary Art Show. I thought it was nice that he asked, and I put a piece in the show. One day the gallery owner came to me and asked if I was going to the Madison Square Garden show that night. "What show?" "You don’t know? I thought you would be going, and if you were I was hoping that you would take me with you." It turned out that Elton John and John Lennon were doing the show. "Oh, I don’t know…" Obviously, l wasn’t too keen on going. "Let me think about it." I asked my secretary to simply send a gardenia each to Elton and John with a note saying congrats or whatever. But the gallery owner did not let go of the idea of going to the show. "Oh, come on, Yoko. please go." So at the last minute, I decided to go as a favour to this guy. It was Elton’s show. and John came out at the end as a surprise guest. People were so excited that the whole Garden was shaking. I looked at him and tears ran down my cheek. He was looking lonely. He was looking scared. He bowed once too often. This was not the John I knew. When he was with me, he wasn’t afraid of anything. I couldn’t stop crying. Everybody else was ecstatic. After the show, the gallery owner said, "Aren’t you going to take me backstage?" I thought, "Oh, give me a break!" But I took him. John couldn’t believe his eyes. We looked at each other for the longest time. We were saying nothings to each other, but we knew what it was. We couldn’t take our eyes off each other. It was terrible. Oh, God. please don’t do this to me. again. I said to myself. I want a life, remember? "You’re looking very good." John said, trying to sound cool. That’s how we came back together again.
In hindsight. I’m glad that John had his "boys room" stuff – before he passed away. Who was to know that he didn’t have very much time left to enjoy life? I remember John’s happy voice "Thank you. Yoko…", even if it was for four days… and I’m sure it wasn’t.
Yoko Ono Lennon NYC 1998
Illustration "The Hole Of My Life" by John Lennon, colored by Yoko Ono Lennon.
from John Lennon Anthology CD box set booklet.
Tagged: , John Lennon , Anthology , Yoko Ono , The Lost Weekend