Random Access Memories

January 3, 2019: When Nan and I were in New York in early October for the Eric Clapton concert at Madison Square Garden, we revisited some of our favorite sights with Nan's sister Mary and her husband Mike. The Museum of Modern Art appeared from the outside to be closed for renovation but was not only open but also extremely crowded. When we were there in 1998, I remember walking around a corner and being surprised to find Van Gogh's "The Starry Night". I stood alone in front of the painting for several minutes, feeling waves of emotion wash over me to be in the presence of a work of art I had admired all my life. This time, the crowd was five deep. Camera phones and selfie sticks blocked my view. I nodded to the painting in acknowledgement and moved on.

June 4, 2017: For our anniversary, Nan and I attended the Roger Waters (Pink Floyd) concert in Denver last night and I was reminded of the night we flew into LaGuardia airport in New York for our friends' wedding in October 2001, just a month after the 9/11 terrorist attacks. I was listening to the in-flight music and as we flew over Ground Zero, which was still brightly lit for recovery work, the song was "The Great Gig in the Sky" from Pink Floyd's 1973 album, "The Dark Side of the Moon". If you're not familiar, the song contains no lyrics, only the otherworldly grieving wail of singer Clare Torry set against somber piano music and special effects. It was an emotional, surreal experience.

December 13, 2015: Sometime in my early twenties, I was standing with friends on a high bluff overlooking Lake Michigan. I commented that looking north to south at the eastern horizon, you could see the curve of the earth. A friend responded that there was no way this was true, that the earth was much too large and the horizon could only appear as a straight line. Thinking about it now, I wonder if knowing the earth is round influenced the way I interpreted what I saw, which would explain why earlier cultures assumed the earth was flat, as they had no visible reason to think otherwise.

November 4, 2015: I was shooting baskets in the driveway with my siblings when something caused us to look up. High above us was a silver sphere hanging in the clear sky without moving. We conjectured about what it could be and decided it must be a weather balloon, even though none of us had ever seen one except in photos. This would have been in the early 1970s, long before UFOs and extraterrestrials had become a part of popular culture.

August 16, 2015: During the summer when I was nine years old, I walked to swimming lessons at a local pool that required me to cross a busy street at a traffic light. On one of the first days, I started to cross with the "Walk" sign and was hit by a car that didn't stop before the crosswalk. It threw me several feet, but I was more surprised than injured. I told the woman who got out of her car to pick me up off the pavement that I was all right, though I had some minor scrapes and bruises. I continued on to my swimming lesson and never told anybody what had happened.

May 5, 2015: When we were young children playing army, we would pretend to die on our backs with our arms outspread, because Jesus on the cross was the only dead person we had ever seen.

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