By ice rivers
I know for sure it was a Tuesday afternoon. I don't know if it was the first time I smoked weed, such moments are hard to pinpoint. Today is also a Tuesday afternoon. Today I found out that Ray Thomas, the flautist for the Moody Blues has passed away from prostate cancer. I know something about cancer.
The beauty of metaphysiction is its ability to go flash forward and backward at the same time while flirtting with the eternal and the imaginary.
The Tuesday afternoon that begins this story happened fifty years ago. I was shooting footage for a film that I was making in graduate school. My idea was to simply walk around and shoot whatever came into my lens on this Tuesday afternoon and call whatever came out "Tuesday Afternoon" It was during this activity that I might or might not have smoked a joint because I know the guy with me was a "weirdo" at the time who definitely smoked the rope. I had shot enough weird footage so I was confident that within the images, I could find 10 solid minutes that would represent what a Tuesday afternoon looked and sounded like and that it would probably be interesting to watch in say 50 years so that I could clearly remember what fifty years ago looked and sounded like.
Yeah, maybe I was loaded as I recall this thought process.
We were driving back to campus. We turned on an FM station. By this time I was an album guy and FM was the album station. I was trying to figure out what music I would use in the background of the film when on the radio came "Tuesday Afternoon". I had never heard anything like it before. When the song was over, the announcer said "that was Tuesday Afternoon by the Moody Blues from their new album Days of Future Passed"
Days of Future Passed might as well have been the name of my mind set on that Tuesday afternoon with Tuesday afternoon playing. I hoped that I would see the Moody Blues in the Future and at that time, remember the past which would naturally include the moment I was living in.
I knew the Moody Blues. I knew of their hit "Go Now" which I wasn't crazy about. I didn't know that the personnel of the band had changed and they had gone from THAT to THIS. Ray Thomas was in both versions, I learned later.
Shocked, stoned and stunned by synchronicity, I became a Moody Blues fan. In other words, I too was a weirdo. At the time you had to be a little weird to like the Blues. They were hanging with LSD guru Timothy Leary and proud of it.
I couldn't believe that "drug music" could be so beautiful or that a simple Tuesday afternoon could be so profound.
I had the music for my film.
I found my film in the music.
Now let's fast forward 15 years.
My first marriage was breaking up although I didn't realize it or perhaps was denying the realization. I know I felt like I had a ton of bricks on my back.
The "famous" Mike had never been to a concert before and he loved the Moody Blues. I invited Mike and a couple of friends to join my family at the Moody Blues concert at the Canandaigua Performing Arts Center.
Mike accepted my invitation.
The night of the Moody Blues arrived.
I had purchased a dozen tickets for the show.
The day of the night of the Blues was very hot. I ran ten miles that afternoon trying to lighten my load.
My brother, my sister, my wife, a few of our friends, my son Beau, Mike and I made the short trip. We walked to the gates. I took out the tickets. I only had eleven tickets. Everybody was looking at me. I counted the tickets only eleven again. I was going to have to exclude someone from the concert. I looked around at the faces. I knew I would exclude myself. I looked at the tickets again. I counted the tickets. I looked at Mike. My marriage was falling apart. Mike was on his way to California. I had screwed up the tickets. I had ruined Mike's first concert. I could feel the earth spinning. I said something incoherent to my brother. He looked at me with concern and said "whaaa?" I spoke again and once again sounded like Gregor Samsa after his metamorphosis. I started to stumble. The tickets fell out of my grasp. I looked directly into my son's eyes as the weight on my shoulders flew off and I fell in slow motion towards the ground. As I looked into his eyes, I realized that I was watching a son watch the death of his father. I wondered how this would affect him him. I heard my wife scream "he didn't go to his physical"
I hit the ground
I knew I was dead.
When I opened my eyes some time later to see what heaven was like I saw two faces. One face was of a beautiful, elderly woman. The other was Mike. This was Mike's first minute at his first concert.
In the background Moody Blues music was playing.
The elderly woman whispered her phone number in my ear. It went right into my permanent memory She told me to call anytime and that the more I called, the more I would want to call. Eventually I wouldn't even need a phone.
I still remember the number. I call it everyday.
The number is/was a prayer.
I called it before I started writing this, seeking help to get this right.
Phone? I don't need no stinken phone.
They wanted to call an ambulance.
I didn't want that
I wanted to go where the music was, where the angel was.
Somebody picked up the tickets and found all twelve.
We went inside the Shell and heard the Blues.
The woman had disappeared once it became clear that I was going to live.
The last time I saw her, she was listening to the show. The Blues may or may not have been playing Tuesday afternoon when our eyes met.
Today, Tuesday, I learned that Ray Thomas had died. Ray was 76 years old. I'm 71. How could all of those future days have passed.
I'm calling the number.