Remember When You Were Young? Musings on COVID & Pink Floyd

This post is for all of you who have asked: “How are they handling COVID in Delaware? What is it like there?” For technical answers, I direct you to Phase 2 of the reopening plan for the Delaware courts. But you can find more interesting answers in Pink Floyd’s Dark Side of the Moon. Let me explain…

1989: Venice, Italy

In the summer of 1989, I was studying abroad in Austria. On July 15th, my friends and I grabbed our Eurail passes and headed south to Venice in search of adventure. There we stumbled into 200,000 Europeans all descending on St. Mark’s square for a free Pink Floyd concert. Who knew?! (Apparently, everyone except us. The spectacle was broadcast to an estimated audience of 100 million.)

Fun Fact: Addressing concerns that the amplified sound could damage the mosaics of St. Mark’s Basilica, while the whole piazza could sink under the weight of so many people, the band agreed to turn the sound down (slightly) and to perform on a floating stage 200 yards from the square.

Now, I am not a Pink Floyd fan. But we were 20 years old and adventure was calling. Loudly. So of course we jumped straight into the mass of humanity streaming towards St. Mark’s. As you can see from this old news footage, there was no social distancing. And with shoulder-to-shoulder / wall-to-wall people all pressing in one direction, there was no going back.

As we made our way over ancient canal bridges, the roads narrowed and at times I was literally picked up off my feet and carried along. At one point, I fell. Dozens of people were pushed forward, apologetically trampling and crushing me underneath, until Ever – a much larger Venezuelan student in our group – grabbed me by my Velcro-like, curly hair and hoisted me to my feet. (Ever, wherever you are today, muchos gracias mi amigo!)

And then, pop!, our little group stumbled forward and into the middle of St. Mark’s square, a light show, fireworks, and people. People everywhere. For any Pink Floyd fans out there, you can watch the entire concert here. But know that being there, in person, connected to all of those people in that one moment – there is no substitute for that experience.

2020: Wilmington, Delaware

Or is there? You may not be aware that Wilmington has an opera house. In fact, there are three venues. The Grand Opera House, the Baby Grand, and the Playhouse on Rodney Square. Together, they deliver “the Best Music, Comedy, Broadway & Variety Shows in Wilmington, Delaware.” But in response to Delaware’s COVID measures, like everything else, all of their scheduled events have been postponed indefinitely.

So imagine my surprise and delight when I received an email from The Grand about an upcoming concert. Adapting to our new reality, they have launched a Concerts by Car Series. And that is how I found myself excitedly purchasing tickets to last Friday’s show, Echoes: The American Pink Floyd, and rushing to the Frawley Stadium parking lot with my husband to listen to The Dark Side of the Moon in “a safe, comfortable, high-quality experience that would blend the special joy of a live concert, the vibe of a drive-in movie and the charms of a summer evening outdoors.”

And sitting on top of our Jeep in 6-feet of socially distant solitude, not having to worry about being imminently trampled to death by hoards of drunken Italians, I had plenty of time to reflect on the lyrics of the actual music this time around.

Originally conceived by the band as a cohesive collection of songs about the pressures of life as a musician, I have now learned that Dark Side of the Moon eventually expanded to include songs about broader topics such as wealth (“Money”), armed conflict (“Us and Them”), madness (“Brain Damage”), squandered existences (“Time”) and death (“The Great Gig in the Sky”). As our country reels from a financial crisis, protests, an increasingly polarized body politic, life in isolation, and a pandemic, those topics are just as relevant today in many ways as they were three decades ago.

So how are things in Delaware? Not any different than the rest of the country, really. Life has been turned upside down. But we are all resilient. And while I miss my old life, the freedom to travel, and the proximity of people, I found myself thoroughly enjoying Friday evening date night with my hubby. Life, after all, is made up of small moments and time spent with the people we care about.

Ticking away the moments that make up a dull day
Fritter and waste the hours in an offhand way.
Kicking around on a piece of ground in your home town
Waiting for someone or something to show you the way.

Tired of lying in the sunshine staying home to watch the rain.
You are young and life is long and there is time to kill today.
And then one day you find ten years have got behind you.
No one told you when to run, you missed the starting gun.

So you run and you run to catch up with the sun but it’s sinking
Racing around to come up behind you again.
The sun is the same in a relative way but you’re older,
Shorter of breath and one day closer to death.

Every year is getting shorter never seem to find the time.
Plans that either come to naught or half a page…

Time. Pink Floyd.

Mette K.