Throwing Copper

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“Honey they’re playing our song.”

Typically when you hear someone say that, you have to brace yourself for some sappy tune from the seventies or eighties by a band like Air Supply or Lionel Richie. Well, I’m saying it about today’s runner, and even though it would never make the play list at our wedding, it is a record that bookmarks an important slice of time for my wife and I, and every time a tune from this record comes on, we look at each other in that funny way and smile.

In the mid 90’s, my studio was on the 25th floor of a downtown Chicago high-rise, and it had a  bank of windows, a wall from floor to ceiling, that overlooked the city’s Magnificent Mile. At about 700 or 800 square feet, it was a pretty tricked out space, loaded with the latest technology; computer design stations, servers, multiple large screens, the works. One night, I found myself working late, as usually, with a couple of dedicated freelancers. We were finishing up some project, one that probably had something to do with “the other white meat” and scrambling to make the last Fed-X pick-up. You see, this was in the days before PDFs, FTPs, or e-mail attachments. If you didn’t make the last Fed-X, you found yourself in your car driving out to O’Hare Airport by 10PM to drop off your package containing large plastic SyQuest disks to the Fed-X sorting center. And believe me that’s no fun. So, the countdown was on and the clock was ticking and the technology was tripping, because SyQuest disks always had a way of failing at the most critical times.

Well, after my friend and colleague Mark B. left with the package in tow, I headed over to the stereo and popped in this new CD, Throwing Copper. My other dedicated freelancer walked over to the studio door, closed it, and turned off all the lights. The transformation was instantaneous. An implosion of darkness collapsed upon the room and a thousand sources of light from the city outside torched through the mirrored wall of windows. The perspective in the studio swung, from the florescent light inside, to a galaxy of city lights outside. It was as if someone had reached up and tore off the entire side of the building, and we were floating in space 25 stories above Michigan Avenue. We could see everything from the tallest buildings to the street lights below. We could peer into other buildings right across the street, close enough to touch, and yet a million miles away. We were all alone, with a million lights all around us.

For months, that freelancer and I had been flirting with each other at work. We both knew it was dangerous to do so. More so for me than her, because I was her boss, but we did anyway. That night, these future lovers sat in that room, in the dark, not touching, not talking, just staring out those windows. For the first time we were together. That was 20 years ago.

“… leave you there, by yourself, chained to fate.
I alone love you, I alone tempt you, I alone love you,
fear is not the end of this!”


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