Recently, on a whim, I dusted off my copy of Pink Floyd’s stellar album, A Momentary Lapse Of Reason. It had been a while since I heard the album, and something compelled me to find it in my collection and play it. As I listened to the album for the first time in a long while, it got me thinking about yesteryear. Thinking led to reminiscing and to memories of a girl I used to know a lifetime ago. Her name was Dena, we were briefly best friends, she was in love with me, and I was an idiot.
During our senior year of High School, Dena and I were practically inseparable. We spent our lunch period sitting together, we walked to classes together, and I gave her a ride home almost every day after school. We were as close as friends could be. While struggling through my senior year, I dated a couple of girls, but Dena was never too far from me. I enjoyed her company as she did mine, but she had a major crush on me. The problem with her crushing on me was that I was too thick headed and ignorant to notice.
In the beginning, she never flat out told me that she was in love with me or that she wanted our friendship to graduate to the relationship level. She did, however, leave me several clues that I was clueless to recognize. Then, one afternoon in the hallowed halls of high school, she handed me a mix tape – first sign indicator. The mix tape was delivered with a track listing and a note.
Side one of the mix tape was…you guessed it, A Momentary Lapse Of Reason. I had mentioned once to Dena that I wanted to get a copy of that album. She remembered that and was kind enough to make one for me. I guess that was our version of Napster back then, borrowing and/or recording tapes for friends. And while side one of the tape had the album I had been craving, it was side two of the tape that was the important side. It contained carefully, hand selected songs, from Dena to me – second sign indicator.
A Momentary Lapse Of Reason was the first Pink Floyd album I owned while it was still somewhat “new.” The only other Floyd in my collection was a vinyl version of Dark Side Of The Moon and a fading cassette of The Wall. I was not a huge Pink Floyd fan at 17, but I appreciated their music and I certainly wanted to spend some quality time with A Momentary Lapse Of Reason. The trouble was that I didn’t have the funds to justify the cost. Between gas, car insurance, smokes, and “fun” money, new music was a luxury that was hard for me to afford; especially for an album that I had only heard one song from.
That night, while alone in my room, I snuck a few cigarettes by the window, put the tape on my stereo, slapped the headphones over my ears, turned out the lights and let the music rip. The opening notes of the instrumental “Signs Of Life” washed over me and I was encapsulated into the world of A Momentary Lapse Of Reason. When David Gilmour’s guitar licks first arrived 3 minutes into the song, I was mesmerized. The music was completely different than any of the hair metal, party time, let’s get laid music I was so used to hearing. This was music on another level of reality. “Signs Of Life” bled right into “Learning To Fly” and I was hooked.
After making my way through the Pink Floyd side, I turned the tape over and listened to the mix tape side. I held the note Dena had written as Mike Oldfield’s “Islands” played in my headphones. We are Islands/never to part/ we are Islands/and I need your love tonight/ yes I need your love tonight. Third sign indicator. I don’t remember the exact contents of the note this many years into the future, but I do remember one line---“Think of me when you play Open Arms.” So now I come to you, with open arms, nothing to hide/believe what I say/so here I am/with open arms/hoping you’ll see/what your love means to me/open arms. Hit me over the head indicator.
To this day, I have no idea why I did not read more into the songs. It is painfully obvious in retrospective hindsight that Dena was pouring her heart out to me through the old muse of someone else’s poetry. She made me a mix tape for crying out loud! I don’t know why I didn’t get it. I don’t know why I didn’t reciprocate my feelings to Dena. And I don’t know why I didn’t try to advance our friendship. I was always attracted to Dena. She was a beautiful girl. We got along well, we would have made a great couple, and most people in our school thought we were an item anyway. As mentioned earlier, I was an idiot.
Days went by and I made no mention of the mix tape other than a brief thank you. I did, however, continue to listen with growing intensity to A Momentary Lapse Of Reason. After my initial obsession with “Learning To Fly” wore off, “Dogs Of War” became my new go to song. As I was still playing the saxophone then, the sax in the music spoke to me on an intense level. I spent much time in my room rewinding the cassette and playing “Dogs Of War” repeatedly. I also got into “On The Turning Away” at that point. Countless chilled autumn evenings were frittered away listening to that song. I’ve always felt there was a lot of power in “On The Turning Away.” The way it starts off with just vocals before Gilmour’s guitar rings in and then the crash into the bridge. It’s all so perfect. To this day “On The Turning Away” remains one of my favorite Pink Floyd songs
A couple of weeks after the mix tape exchange, I proclaimed at our shared lunch table that I was giving up on women forever because all they did was hurt me. I don’t remember exactly why I stated that. Either my ex-girlfriend was playing mind games with me, or a girl that I really liked wasn’t reciprocating the same feelings, kid stuff, really. Yet, that was to be expected at 17. When Dena heard my proclamation she stormed out of the lunch room in anger. I was befuddled (because teenage boys are idiots) and didn’t understand what Dena was so upset about. I found out later that day in the form of a note.
Prior to our afternoon classes, Dena slipped a note in my hand and walked away. I was still confused about what had upset her, so I didn’t ask any questions. I just accepted the note and headed to class. After reading the note, everything made sense. In the note she explained to me that I had hurt her with my statement of giving up on women. She could not believe that I was so clueless about her feelings for me. She also told me that I needed to get a grip on reality (or something to that effect). Basically she told me to piss off, but with much harsher language.
I would love to tell you that I ran to her after class, swept her off her feet, and planted a romantic kiss on her lips. However, I can’t tell you that, because it didn’t happen. Instead of seeking her out for romance, I got angry. I was mad that she had scolded me in a letter and I was mad at her for not understanding my feelings. Instead of a romantic embrace later that day we had a not so romantic argument. That led to us not speaking to one another – for quite a while. After that our relationship pretty much went downhill. After high school, I never saw Dena again.