During my college days in the late 1980s, there was a resurgence of the hippie movement, as well as a resurgence, rediscovery, and reinvention of the accompanying music. Bands like Moody Blues, Pink Floyd, and Jethro Tull released new albums, and their new audience (such as myself) dug through our older siblings' LP collection, listening to these "moldie oldies" with a new appreciation.
I was actually having a musical rebirth of my own. During my late high school and early college years, I was a born-again Christian. My "friends" convinced me that all secular music was evil, even someone as innocuous as Billy Joel (he used the words "damn", "hell", and "shit" on his albums; he MUST be an agent of the Devil). Consequently, I threw out all of my albums. I certainly couldn't sell them or give them away, for fear of corrupting others.
Flash forward slightly to 1987. I was in my sophomore year, and had woken up from the religion-induced haze I was in. I realized that secular music wasn't all bad (well, I still think Tiffany and Debbie Gibson sold their souls, but that's besides the point), and started to listen to the local stations playing the new albums by Pink Floyd and Jethro Tull. My roommate at the time was a bit of a pothead, and he had tons of older brothers and sisters from which to borrow music (and buy us booze). Over the course of two semesters, I managed to copy almost the entire Pink Floyd catalog. I would sit (or lay) there, drinking my vodka and getting a contact high from the pot smoke, getting extremely mellow listening to these tapes.
During the summer between my soph and junior year, the Moody Blues released a new album (at this time, CDs were running neck and neck with tapes and LPs). I loved a few songs on it, and spent my summer listening to it incessantly, between playings of my other newfound favorite, Guns and Roses (hell of a change from God Rock, eh?)
The following year, I had sobered up somewhat, having a different roommate who was also a very good friend of mine. I managed to fill in the rest of my Moody Blues collection. Miraculously, I also managed to find time for a girlfriend. Abbey was a neo-hippie, or at least a wannabe.
Sorry, "Tuesday Afternoon" just started. Have to listen to it for a while.
Anyway, the timing of that song is rather fortuitous. That song, and this album, is the whole point of this romp down memory lane. Before Abbey was my girlfriend, she was my friend, or more precisely, one of the members of a closely-knit (and loosely-wrapped) circle of friends. We all hung out together between classes and after dinner. Many was the time, before and after we started dating, that Abbey and I would sit in her dorm room, playing cards or checkers, listening to the Moody Blues. Especially on Tuesday afternoons.
After a while, friendship turned into something more, and to the dismay of some of her friends, we started going out. Naturally , it was doomed to failure, but I didn't know it at the time. For a few months, we were pretty happy. Her dorm window was right next to a big oak tree, and we would sit holding each other, listen to this album, watching the squirrels play among the leaves. Eventually, the song "Nights in White Satin" would come on, and the squirrels were forgotten for some good old-fashioned snogging.
[TV analogy #107: I've become a "Buffy the Vampire Slayer" fan, and I'm up to season three. If you've ever watched "Buffy the Vampire Slayer", you can sort of substitute Willow for Abbey, and Xander for me. On second thought, Abbey was more a Cordelia type, only without the snobbish attitude. Another friend of ours was the Willow type, and if you've watched the show, you know how willow and Xander wound up. (Remember, I'm only up to season three. Please don't post any spoilers to correct me or update their relationship).]
Setting that reference aside, Abbey and I subsequently broke up. Back then, I had what you could consider a problem letting go of failed relationships. Even after we broke up, Abbey and I would hook up for the occasional dalliance. When I would go to visit Rachel, a mutual friend of ours, the conversation would tend to turn toward Abbey and I, how she was doing, and if and when we were going to get back together. One weekend between my junior and senior year, I was visiting Rachel with a friend of mine, and I told him that if the conversation turned towards Abbey, he would have to say something completely out there to distract us. I sort of coached him on what to say, never expecting him to actually say it. We visited, and sure enough, the conversation was starting to lean that way. All of a sudden, Glenn points out the window and exclaims, totally straight-faced as only Glenn can do, "Wow! Did you guys see that flying pig over there?"
Well, Rachel just looked at him for a moment, and then bust out laughing. Glenn and I were right behind her, and the three of us were in hysterics for minutes.
That broke the cycle. From that point on, whenever I thought of Abbey, I pictured her as a pink, round pig with white wings, hovering and circling like a anthropomorphic blimp. Purely by accident, on the drive home that afternoon, I put in Pink Floyd's "Animals" tape, which starts and ends with the song "Pigs on the Wing". It just reinforced the image.
Now, whenever I hear the Moody Blues, or see a squirrel running up a tree, or listen to the "Animals" album, I think of Abbey, not with the longing-bordering-on-obsessive-stalking I once did, but with a feeling of bittersweet memories. She really wasn't a bad person, and I probably didn't treat her or her friends as fairly as I should have. Despite it all, it was fun, and we correspond by e-mail occasionally, not so much as ex-boyfriend and ex-girlfriend, or even as ex-friends, but as old acquaintances. Time has mellowed us both.
I have long said that the one-year or so period between the end of my sophomore year and the beginning of my senior year was the best time of my life. It really was, a combination of the music, the relationships, the friendships, and the the sheer joy of being a 20-year old college student. I'll never be that person again, but I can listen to the music and remember.