Monday, January 28, 2013

No 493 – Us and Them / Any Colour You Like

Performer: Pink Floyd
Songwriters: Roger Waters, Rick Wright, David Gilmour, Nick Mason
Original Release: Dark Side of the Moon
Year: 1973
Definitive Version: Pulse, 1995

One could make the argument that all of Side 2 of Dark Side of the Moon is one song, or at least everything after Money. I broke it up thusly, because it seems more to me that Lunatic / Eclipse are their own suite, and radio, if it plays this song at all, will play Any Colour You Like immediately after at least half the time. That’s really the best part anyway, in my inexpert opinion.

Speaking of radio, this song was on the radio—and the whole suite was played—an important morning in May 2005.

April had been a huge month for me and Laurie in that we made huge strides in our relationship. When we arranged for my visit to Chicago in the middle of May, it was going to be the quickest turnaround from the last time I saw her since we began to date—a mere two weeks.

Just before I left, Laurie took particular care to wish me safe travels and urged me to drive safely. I always do, but I assured her I would.

It’s just as well, because after I turned north on I-65 at Indianapolis, the sky started to turn black. I was hopeful I could get ahead of the storm but no such luck. I drove into the teeth of the storm at Lafayette, and it was a monster. I’ve driven through a few storms in my day (and even around one once, as I wrote), and this one was one of the worst.

The wind blew the rain sideways, and within seconds, visibility was down to about zero. Dozens of cars and trucks were pulled off to the side of the highway.

I don’t see the point of that. If you’re afraid to drive, it’s better to pull over. I’d rather just take it easy and plow through the storm, because you don’t know how long it will last, and it’ll will always go more quickly if you drive through it. I slowed to about 35, so I could see the road ahead through the furious rain and windshield wiping, and turned on my flashers, but I kept going.

The storm continued for what seemed an extraordinarily long time. In fact, it seemed a second wave hit after easing up enough so I could get the Honda back up to 60, and this time, I was back down to about 45.

Finally, the rain started to ease up for real. The sun was setting, almost at the horizon line behind a wall of low-lying dark clouds. It found a gap in the wall, and the sun’s rays were shining up into the canopy of the huge storm I was about to finally pass through—shafts of gold in a sea of gray.

It was one of the most incredible things I ever saw. We’ve all seen the sun’s rays shining down shimmering shafts through a hole in a gray cloud wall, but I’d never seen them shining up in such a similarly well-defined way before. It was like a little reward for persevering through the storm.

When I told Laurie about this after I arrived, she hugged me and told me why she had been so worried for me on this particular trip. Her mom had been killed in a car crash during a storm 24 years earlier almost to the day. She always got emotional around Mother’s Day for that reason, but now she had a new reason for feeling particularly anxious—me. Lightning might have struck in Indiana, but it didn’t strike twice.

I don’t know what role that factored into what happened Sunday, perhaps none. We were lolling about in bed, having a particularly lazy morning listening to the radio and talking about this, that and the other when this song came on.

Up until this time, even though the relationship was moving forward, no long-term plans had been made. The plan, now that I had been both to Cooperstown and The Sporting News Archives, was that as soon as the Clippers season ended in September, I was going to move to California in with Jin and Paul to write my book and look for work.

Laurie know that that was always the plan, but now she didn’t like it at all, and as Rick Wright’s ethereal piano played in the background, she said, well, you know, there are lots of jobs in Chicago. You could look for one here.

It wasn’t explicitly stated, but we both knew the truth: Laurie was asking me to move in with her. I couldn’t afford to live on my own due to my almost completely drained savings; she was well-aware of that. I couldn’t believe it. I was overcome with emotion, as was she, as I readily accepted her gracious offer. Yes, I’ll come here and stay long enough to find a job. Then I’ll get a place of my own. California, again, would have to wait.

Unlike almost every other weekend visit that we had during the first year of our courtship, I don’t remember any details about what we did or where we ate that visit. It was all of secondary importance, blown away by the gale force of Laurie’s invitation. The sun’s rays shined down on both of us.

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