“You are like a hurricane, there’s home in your eyes.
And I’m getting blown away, somewhere safer where the feeling stays,
I wanna love you but I’m getting blown away.
I am just a dreamer, but you are just a dream.
And you could have been anyone to me.”
– Neil Young
Time is such a rascal. Nearly 40 years after hanging out with a really cool, quirky guy during my last two months of college, I landed a commission from him. Despite the decades, our connection was as solid and goofy as it had ever been. Which reminded me of why we had clicked so solidly in the first place.
Fast forward to the here and now, after a hilarious and food-filled evening with on a sort of reconnaissance mission from my college, I drove over to see Peter with my good friend Dee. Greeted with a table set with a King Henry VIII sized feast, we filled our glasses and plates and settled into our host’s gorgeous living room. He intentionally blasted music which played a perfect soundtrack to our hours of catching up. Let the reminiscing begin!
A shameful admission, I had never heard Neil Young before I met Peter in the spring of 1982, but ever since then, and every single time I hear Neil Young, I think of my quirky and creative buddy. Kookie is a word that has been used to describe me, and what a treat to meet someone cut from the same cloth. It was as though we, as college kids, spoke the same secret language, leaving everything boring off of the table. So at that point, I had to graduate and could not wait to get my life started. Peter stayed to finish his final year. Life took us onward to the future, whatever on earth that sorted itself out to be. Frankly, we were a happy little pair and as I often wonder, what could have become of that if we’d had more time to ruminate? Where’s Robert Frost when you need him?
I’d heard snippets about him from our mutual friends, and over the years may have seen him at a reunion or two. I know that I have a sweet birthday card tucked into an ancient diary of mine written in his unforgettable scrawly handwriting. A what if, perhaps? Or more wonderfully, a lifelong friend. I knew I’d always remember him, a funny little falling star who sparked wonder and laughter.
Our reunion was without awkwardness or tiptoeing: we fell immediately into our zany pace, no subject off the table, laughs and confessions of the twists and turns of our lives, and the evening ended with his pointing to a blank wall with the following statement, “If only I knew an artist who could paint something for me to put here.”
A dream client, his only request was that the painting be colorful, and thought provoking. So, during my drive back to Chicago, crossing that wide Mississippi, I played Neil Young as my inspiration. I pictured us as the two young kids we once were stepping into one final moment of fun before the shackles of adulthood descended. The mirth, wonder and contemplation of listening to records in his dorm room; the silence of an Iowa night perched on a hilltop gazing far far far into the horizon; dots of white farm houses hither and yon, a sole yellow window alight to guide one home.
Well, there was the painting, in my mind. And in lieu of a cornfield or soybeans, I needed a burst of harvest colors to pull the eye and mind into the beauty of the seasons, for no matter what, they are here to churn us forward and forward still, into the future, into the unknown. With the glad company of old friends by our sides.
I hope he likes it!