Last Saturday, we celebrated 16 years of marriage together. Six-teen? Really?
I went through your iTunes playlists a few weeks ago with the intrepid plan of finishing this post in time for our anniversary. It was to be an open tribute to you, our marriage and our life together.
I started chicken scratching in my notebook -- you know the one I won't let anyone else touch -- three days after our anniversary but never made it online until today.
I know my lateness with this won’t bother you. It won’t bother you any more than it doesn’t bother me that you probably won’t even read this unless I tell you it's here. I know you usually don’t read my blog because, as you tell me, you don't read any blogs. Besides, there’s little I’ve written over the years online that you don’t know in more detail and with infinite repetition in real life.
So in no particular order or even of importance, I give you sixteen songs. One for each year.
Phish. You were always more partial to the Grateful Dead. I didn't care one way or another until Lila's first week of life when Farmhouse was the only song that put her to sleep.
I played it the other day for her to see if she’d remember it, even a shadow of it. She didn’t.
Must Have Been the Roses
I barely knew anything about the Grateful Dead when we hopped in a car with that guy Eric -- the one who lived in your building and refused to stop for bathroom breaks because of his obsession with making good time -- to drive to Buckeye Lake. All I really knew of them was from the tape -- yes an actual tape -- you made for me the first month we dated.
I played that thing endlessly, and it was still going the week over Christmas when all my Orthodox room mates went home for break, leaving us alone in that apartment on 116th street and Broadway.
We lay in bed in my tiny room listening to the sounds of other people's moans as they bounced off the walls of the airshaft outside my window. We smoked cigarettes and weed and ate hummus and peanut butter sandwiches while we asked ourselves “What would the Lubuvitcher Rebbe say if he walked in on us right now?”
For some reason I remember you wearing a silly hat, the kind with a pointy top and earflaps, because the heat didn't work. But I think I'm making that up.
That was the same winter your father called us up and told us we should be concerned because people were talking about us. There were rumors we were having sex, and I should worry about my reputation.
You realize, the same ones so concerned about the sex lives of nineteen year olds, have long since divorced or died. Just saying.
Sea of Heartbreak
Your bedtime song for Lila, and you sound a lot like Johnny Cash when you sing it. You also sound just like Bob Dylan when you sing his songs and can affect a Neil Young so perfect that when my new neighbor came over to complain we were playing music too loud, she didn't believe me when I told her the stereo wasn't plugged in yet.
I sound more of the Roseanne Cash variety. I always mess up the same words and Lila corrects me.
Simple Twist of Fate
We walked down the aisle of our orthodox Jewish wedding to this song. It was a kind of wordless muzak-y klezmer remake, performed by the band a la mode for Atlanta Orthodox Jewish weddings.
No one aside from us knew the tune or the words or how not-quite-appropriate they were for two 20-something not-so-Orthodox-anymore-but-no-one-knew-yet jews to walk down the aisle to these particular Bob Dylan lyrics.
I couldn't find the master himself performing this song on Youtube. Only covers. But it seems like Jeff Tweedy now carries the mantel for this song. I think you'll like it.
These days, all you want to listen to is Rza, Gza, ODB aka Big Baby Jesus who’s now dead anyway and really, for you it’s more about the Method of the Man. But I want that Latin beat be it funk or reggae or Calle-trece-ton with a little Brazilian samba.
How when I fell hard for this song, you didn't complain when I played it over and over.
Now I can’t listen to Comeme anymore after the person who introduced me to Chambao fucked me over so badly it's made me reevaluate how easily I open my life to people and trust them. You told me it doesn’t matter. Music is music. Don’t let the real world ruin it for me. Then you tell me I shouldn't let some asshole change who I am in real life either.
I listened to it in high school and again in college when I spent late nights chatting at the diner of the same name. I went there with Ken my last night of my first year of college. That was before we even met.
I sang Lila to sleep with this song since before she could speak. She still asks for the "On the Corner" song and sings it with me as a duet.
I sang this song to her in Rob‘n’Joy’s apartment down the street from the place we sold in Brooklyn the night we really almost ended things. It was right before we left New York, and the process of moving was like ripping out deep roots. At a certain point, you figure, “Hey, I’m getting rid of everything, why not just get rid of you, too?”
Lila woke up in the middle of our serious talk. I took her back to bed and tried my best to explain what was happening without scaring her or confusing her then sang Tom’s Diner again and again.
I was surprised to find you still in the kitchen after she finally fell asleep. I don't think I ever told you how glad I am you stayed.
I used to like Pavement. I used to love Pavement. But it has gone the way of Johnny Cash for me after too many roadtrips with the same few CDs on repeat.
Shady Lane makes me smile and think of one of our first trips together when we heard Pavement live in Dublin, and I was convinced I wanted to move to Ireland, never go back to New York.
Trains Across the Sea
We were in Amsterdam three months into our world travel trip and had only just started to find a rhythym. We finally started to relax and enjoy it.
I hung out with Lila one morning and you went off to explore. When you took her that afternoon, I dragged the manuscript of a novel I’d been butting heads with for years and went to The Rokery with a pen and notebook.
I spent most of the afternoon people watching. There was the guy who refused to remove his hat before going down to buy whatever it was he was going to buy. And the woman behind the counter who was young and beautiful but damn could she handle herself when the guy with the hat became belligerent and began to threaten her. Soon after Guy With Hat was escorted from the place, she showed me how she cut her t-shirt to make it more interesting. “I don’t like things that are boring,” she told me.
The Rokery manager hit on me the entire time, and I found him adorable and sexy. It stopped being flattering, though, the moment he smiled and suddenly aged fifty years and turned evil. I went back to my notebook.
I'm glad I can tell you these things. You're never jealous or upset. After sixteen years, you know where you stand with me. You don't have to worry.
I left soon after, and waited on the edge of a canal when I saw you down on the other side of the bridge. You with Lila asleep in the stroller, and I watched as you floated across the river to the tones of the Silver Jews.
Ok, so really that's eight, and my intention had been 16. Can we call it one song for every two years? That way I'll be finished this post by the time you get to this wifi cafe where I'm working, and we can have a coffee together and talk about other things.
Then I a can surprise you with this today instead of waiting until, maybe, it never happens because I'm reaching for more instead of being happy with what I have right now.
Happy anniversary, Noah!