Performer: Crosby, Stills, Nash & Young
Songwriters: David Crosby
Original Release: Crosby, Stills & Nash
Definitive Version: Four Way Street, 1971
The multipart journey on which I’m about to embark must be told in order, even though the songs don’t exactly fit that timeframe. But to make any sense out of what I’m about to relate—let alone went through—I have to do it chronologically. I apologize in advance for the length of this post; we have a lot of ground to cover.
Awhile ago, I wrote that April 23, 2008, was the last normal day I would have for 10 months. In retrospect, that wasn’t true; it just felt like it.
As I mentioned, Laurie and I had a great evening April 23, visiting with Jim and Dave in Park Ridge. The next night we got together with another friend of mine, Tim, who lives out in the sticks. Back then Tim, Laurie and I would meet about once a month to hit a new restaurant in Chicago. On April 24, we met at Pizza DOC, now renamed.
After dinner, Laurie suggested we go a couple blocks away to the Huettenbar, a German themed pub that had recently aired out after Illinois banned public smoking, for a drink and then call it a night. It was a school night, after all.
We cut our stay a bit short when I noticed Laurie nodding off on her barstool. This was one of my specialties when I’d had enough and it was late, but I’d never seen Laurie do it. She apologized, of course, but admitted she was pretty tired.
When we got home, she said she hadn’t been sleeping well. In fact, she said, she felt like she really hadn’t slept well since we got back from Mexico—at the start of the month.
It happens, and Laurie might have taken a day off to get caught up, except she felt she couldn’t skip work. While we were on vacation, her boss, who had MS, as I mentioned, had surgery related to complications, so when we got back, Laurie had to fly solo.
This was very stressful, because, as I mentioned, Laurie never wanted to be in charge of anything. But she also had a busy play schedule in a few weeks and worried that her increased responsibilities at work might affect her stage work. Still, Laurie took on her increased day-job responsibility with vigor, and it seemed that everything was fine.
Everything wasn’t fine. Laurie’s sleep problems got worse, and she was more easily upsettable than usual. Then she started to obsess about a trinket she bought in Mexico. At the town market in San Miguel, she bought a Huichol (beaded) coyote howling at the moon. She couldn’t figure out where it should live, as she would say.
Typically, Laurie decided where something lived the first day she had it, and there it stayed for the duration. Not this time. The coyote started on the baker’s rack in the dining room, which we use as our bar, then Laurie put it on her bedside table, then in the living room and back in the dining room. This wasn’t like her.
On the first weekend in May, we drove to Berwyn to see The Ascension of Carlotta at a playhouse her friend, Ann, who directed the play, had just opened. It was a Sunday matinee: We’d see the play, then hang out a bit, but it didn’t quite work out as planned
First, Laurie was upset—inordinately so, I thought—by seeing a playwright she didn’t expect to see. This was odd, because Laurie was going to star in a play at this theater in August that the playwright had written. You were going to see her anyway. Why be bothered by this? I just didn’t expect to see her here today, Laurie said. Uh … OK.
Second, Laurie forgot that we caught the play’s finale, so Ann and her husband, Barry, couldn’t hang out for long after the play. They had to strike the stage. This faux pas further flustered Laurie, and she wanted to leave right away. As we left, on a bright spring day, we ran into Barry bringing in soft drinks for the strike party, and Laurie immediately burst into tears upon seeing him.
Barry gave her a hug, and she apologized profusely. Now Laurie was embarrassed as well as flustered. When we got to the car, she cried some more. We sat in the car and talked for a while—she admitted that the pressure at work was getting to her—before I drove home.
Monday morning, Laurie said she didn’t sleep a wink the night before. That evening we went to see another play, Golda’s Balcony, starring another of Laurie’s friends, but Laurie definitely wasn’t feeling it. It was opening night, and we planned to hang out a bit afterward, but again the plans changed. We had one drink, stayed only long enough to see her friend and went home.
The next day was worse. Again, Laurie complained in the morning that she hadn’t slept at all, and when I called her later that morning, I got no answer. This wasn’t unusual—she probably was very busy—but when I called later, I still got no response. Finally, my phone rang. It was Laurie, saying she was heading to the L. The department head was sending Laurie home. Laurie wasn’t feeling well.
That didn’t bother me. What bothered me was that most of the conversation made no sense at all. Laurie sounded incoherent. Something was wrong, and it seemed to me that she was becoming exhausted. I went to my boss and told him I needed to take some time off to be home with Laurie.
I got home about 3, and the situation wasn’t good. Laurie had gone to bed but hadn’t slept. She was a bit incoherent and very agitated. Frankly, I thought she just needed to relax, but she couldn’t do it. Finally, Laurie decided that the beaded coyote had bad “juju,” and she had to get rid of it.
I was exasperated now but, it wasn’t worth arguing over, so I said, it’s your piece, you take it out to the dumpster. Laurie muttered fine, grabbed it and headed out the back door but stopped as though she changed her mind. Still very agitated, she came back in and stuffed the coyote into the trash before storming off to bed.
When she was gone, I pulled it out of the trash and hid it in the back porch. I knew she loved it when she bought it, but something was up. She would regret getting rid of her coyote, I thought, so I’d hide it until whatever this was blew over.
It didn’t get any better when we went to bed. It was about 2 in the morning, when Laurie woke me up saying someone else was in the apartment.
I was awake and instantly alert. I shushed her and listened as carefully as I could. I heard nothing. I got up and grabbed something heavy from my dresser to throw, just in case. I saw nothing. No one’s here, I said, when I came back to bed. Laurie was certain she’d heard someone else.
About an hour later, Laurie woke me up again. “I think you’ve overslept your alarm.” I certainly had done that before, but I looked at the clock. It was about 3:30. I get up early, granted—at 6. I assured her everything was fine and went back to sleep. An hour or so later, she did it again. Now wide awake, I got up.
That morning, I sent Laurie an e-card, encouraging her that she was going through a tough time and that everything would be OK. She sent me no response. That was a bit unusual, but, OK, she’s busy.
When I asked about an hour or so later whether she got the card, her response took me by surprise. She said she didn’t respond because she knew how angry I was with her. Huh? I reread my e-card. There seemed to be nothing in there that would convey anger. When I tried to explain, she sent me a reply that frankly made no sense at all, like last night. Now I was chilled to the bone.
I called her, and again Laurie said she was going home from work, but this time she assured me I didn’t need to come home early. She had spoken with her boss’s boss and decided to take the rest of the week off. Laurie got in touch with her therapist (finally), who was sending her to a doctor she trusted that afternoon. Although Laurie didn’t make total sense on the phone, she sounded better. At least she wasn’t still angry with me about the e-card.
When I got home from work, Laurie called and said she had met with the doctor and was picking up a couple of prescriptions. She said she’d swing by home and we could go get Thai for dinner, and she would tell me everything.
Laurie definitely seemed better. There was no incoherence. Laurie said she liked the doctor, who put her through a battery of blood and other tests and prescribed her a couple of things. They mostly were supplements, which Laurie preferred, but he also prescribed a sleeping pill. Good. That seemed to be, ahem, just what the doctor ordered.
It was a good evening, and I was encouraged that after some much-needed relaxation, things would be normal. When it was bedtime, Laurie said she wanted to sleep on the couch on the living room, so she wouldn’t hear my alarm and soI could get a good night’s sleep, too. She apologized profusely for the past week and said I was a trooper for helping her try to get through this. Things were about to get better.
Well, like the man says, the darkest hour is always just before the dawn. It was May 7, and everything was about go pitch black.