February 3, 2016
Kim and I were within twenty feet of each other so many times over the ten years before we met.
She worked at an office that shared a driveway with the apartment complex I lived in. We both ate at the Wendy's in front of her office building. We never met.
We sat rows apart from each other at the famous Cleveland Browns playoff game against the Oakland Raiders. A bitter cold day with a strong wind blowing off Lake Erie. The game ended with a play that every Cleveland fan knows was "Red Right 88". It didn't go as planned and Bernie Kosar threw and interception. Kim and I and eighty-thousand fans with frozen faces shouted "No" and stared in disbelief as a great season came to an end. Kim and I shared an unforgetable experience and yet our first date was twelve years and three weeks later.
Kim and her gang met for drinks the same place that I went to Fridays after school with my fellow teachers. I was a young math teacher at an all girls school nearby. Kim was a senior in college across the street. Only a year separated us and yet she was part of a rowdy group of kids and I was there with professionals ending their work week. There's no way we could have met then.
And yet we got into our separate cars and cranked up Van Morrison's Moondance on the radio.
I was late to Van. Freshman year of college I finish up a shift making pizzas for dinner at the campus bar and head over to a party at the Usdan student center with Jeremy.
We walk in as Moondance is playing. Jeremy turns to me and shouts over the music, "I love this song."
I nod and ask, "who is it?" The look on Jeremy's face tells me this is something I should have known. Our friendship is never the same after that.
Kim and I are planning our wedding. I've been working at a smooth Jazz station and many friends are participating by providing music for the ceremony and reception. Al, our dentist is playing the organ. Jay, a friend who owns a local CD store (that's how you bought music in those days) is playing guitar. My sister Jill is singing and Herb is playing the flute.
We need a flute because Kim and I agreed that one of the songs we want played before the ceremony is Moondance. Moondance doesn't feel right without a flute.
After the ceremony a bagpiper leads us all to the stairs of Finney Chappel and then across the square to the reception. Kim and I don't get to hear our favorite local Jazz Combo, "Soul Eyes" play during the early part of the reception. By the time we enter Richard is DJing. Richard plays "Brown Eyed Girl" for Kim whenever he DJs or performs.
I'm working progressive radio in Westerly, Rhode Island and Van's double live album comes out. What to pick to play on the air? (In those days some stations actually let DJ's pick what to play.)
Oh, never mind, it's easy.
"There's a caravan, it's on its way."
"Why," you ask.
Keep listening. It's a song about radio. Sure it's about gypsies but it also speaks to the group of us setting up tent each night to play music for people who know us so well who we never meet.
"Turn up your radio. And let me hear the song".
Van had a lot of other great songs on a lot of other great albums both studio and live but the ten on Moondance speak to me in a deep and personal way that I don't understand.
An easy guitar gently pulls us in and then Van's distinctive voice sings "We were born before the wind". And there we are - even before the saxophones mimic the fog horn blowing the scene is set.
Kim and I are dating and we are invited to join some friends in a night that doesn't go particularly well. We walk back to the car in silence. I unlock the car for her (you used to have to do that manually - not with a chirpy button press). She gets in and I walk around to the driver's side and open the door.
I look up and a beautiful full moon fills the sky.
"Get out of the car," I say.
"No," she says. She's sure I'm going to leave her there.
"I mean it," I say, "you've got to see this moon."
She gets out of the car cautiously and looks up at the moon.
Maybe nothing to do with Van but "Moondance" reminds me of that night.
I asked Jaimee yesterday what her Desert Island Disks would be.
This would be one of mine.
It reminds of the times when Kim was just across the room from me but we didn't know each other yet. It reminds me of that full moon that saved an evening. It reminds me of the day we got married. It reminds me of the many times since then when we turn it up in the car and ride together without having to say anything.
"Turn it up,
turn it up,
little bit higher,
Turn it up,
so you know it's got soul"