Solsbury Hill and Synchronicity

Whenever I approach an apparent transition in my life, ‘Solsbury Hill’ by Peter Gabriel becomes an earworm that is impossible to remove.

On my very last day in the US Navy, on US Naval Station Norfolk, after the personnel guy said ‘Have a good life’, I put my Walkman headphones on and pressed play. ‘Solsbury Hill’ happened to make it onto my cassette tape. With my seabag on my back I made my way out of the Personnel building…

My uncle, who was stationed at Norfolk at the same time I was, picked me up near the front gate.

I did not believe the information
I just had to trust imagination
My heart going boom boom boom
“Son,” he said, “Grab your things, I’ve come to take you home.”

My uncle was taking me to the airport to take me to the next stage in my life, in London, to be with a girl I had met at a previous duty station.

On our way, he decided to treat me to one last piece of Americana: Hooters.

Proudly, he told the Hooters Girl who was assigned to our table that I was going to live in London. Rather than being impressed, she asked ‘Why would anyone want to live there?’

Being 21 years older now, I can appreciate the sentiment. She was a somewhere and I was an anywhere, at the time. I had no roots.

My uncle and I gave each other a knowing look and decided to drop the subject.

But that was a pivotal day. And I think I have come home. It didn’t work out with the girl I wanted to be with, but I eventually met my wife. ‘Solsbury Hill’ played a prominent role in that day.

Today was my last day as a contractor. I’ve been a contractor for 13 years. It has had its ups and downs. I once went 7 months without work. Next week I begin life again as a company man. I will have half the takehome pay, but I will have shaved about two hours off of my daily commute. Which means more time for the things that really count: My family.

‘Solsbury Hill’ has been playing over and over in my mind today. Another transition. Funny that it happens in Autumn.

Now, to the synchronicity part. There is a bloke I occasionally encounter on the train on the way home. I ran into him today. He usually has some interesting audio kit and we usually chat about it. Tonight he had a pair of eyeglasses with speakers installed in them. He showed them off by offering them to me to check them out. And who should be playing on his eyeglasses cum earphones?

Peter Gabriel.

And apparently Gabriel wrote ‘Solsbury Hill’ about his decision to leave Genesis. A major turning point in his life. I had no idea up until my train friend told me about it.

So tonight, I make a toast to Mr. Gabriel. His song is very much a part of the soundtrack of my life, and I hope the promise it holds now is as profitable as the promise it held then.

Today I don’t need a replacement
I’ll tell them what the smile on my face meant
My heart going boom boom boom
“Hey,” I said, “You can keep my things, they’ve come to take me home.”


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