They’re Playing our Song

When do couples usually get “their” song? Is it the song that might be playing during some particularly memorable moment? Something that seems like it’s speaking just to the two of you, that puts words to feelings you have, but couldn’t find words for? Do couples still even have songs? Gone are the days of making cassettes or burning CDs for partners as a sign of love. Do people just share playlists on Spotify now?

I know that at many of the weddings that I’ve worked, the first dance isn’t really the couples’ song, but just whatever the DJ recommends. There are hundreds of suggested “first dance” songs on the interwebs, and I’ve heard hundreds over the years. The memorable ones — which are often songs I haven’t heard before — are the ones that I can tell are that couples’ “song”. One of my favorites wasn’t a bride/groom first dance at all. The groom had the first dance with his little girl, who was about six, to her favorite song from Frozen, and his bride joined them towards the end. I thought that was pure lovely.

Looking back on my past relationships, I wonder why some, which were “meeting the parents” serious, did not result in a song, while others did. I believe it reflects the strength of the relationship. In those where we’ve had a song, we still think of each other fondly, even decades after the romantic relationship ended (with one exception — there’s always one exception). So, let’s travel down memory lane and take a peek at my relationship song playlist, starting with the first and ending with the finest.

The college boyfriend from Boston: “Genesis” by Jorma Kaukonen. The boyfriend was kind of a Deadhead, but also artsy. Our relationship was a bit stormy (my fault – I was young and stupid) but he still kept me company on my last night in town and saw me off at the Greyhound bus station the next morning. On that night, we sat on the floor in his apartment, on the carpet we’d carried home from Sears about half a mile away (a building which is now the Blue Cross Blue Shield of Massachusetts offices, and in which I had a work meeting once about a dozen years ago, which was weird) and looked into each other’s eyes silently as this played. It’s a sweet memory.

The Ex-Husband (heretofore known as Ex-Pat): “Last Kiss” by J. Frank Wilson and the Cavaliers. K thinks this is a terribly morbid song to be her parents “song”, and I can’t recollect why it was our song. Ex-Pat had a wonderful singing voice; I have a vague memory of him singing it to me, driving down Highway 93 in his old white Ford Falcon station wagon very early on in our relationship. He also serenaded me with it from a stage in a bar while I was playing pool one night. Another sweet memory.

One Dear Friend: “The Girl from Ipanema” and “I Thought About You”, both by Frank Sinatra. We were as close as a couple could be without ever being a couple. We danced to both of these songs, the former on a balcony in New Orleans in the afternoon light, and the latter in an Italian restaurant in Las Vegas. And we both loved Frank.

The Captain: “Roam” by the B-52s (a song he shared with others that he sailed with) and “My Romance” by Carly Simon. We were in a cab in San Francisco one time, talking about music, and Carly Simon’s name came up, and he made the cab stop and wait while he ran into a music store we just happened to be passing, coming out with a double Carly Simon CD, from which we gravitated to this song. When I knew of the Captain’s death, I was in the car in a traffic jam in Washington, D.C., and was listening to Rod Stewart’s “Sailing”. I cannot listen to that song now.

Ex-fiance Dr. Narcissist: “Come Away with Me” by Norah Jones. This relationship was just what you’d expect from a narcissist, so needless to say, it ended terribly and has taken a decade of recovery and ongoing recognition of how much gaslighting I experienced. In this relationship, I loved like never before, which makes it that much sadder. This song is never to be played in my presence, which is a shame because it’s a beautiful song.

And saving the best for last, my husband M: We have two pieces of music that we think of as our song. “Variations on a Theme by Thomas Tallis” by Ralph Vaughan Williams, which obviously isn’t a song, but we discovered early on that we both liked classical music and that this was a favorite of each of us. You don’t find a lot of classical music lovers out there these days, so I got lucky. The other, which is an actual song, is “True Companion” by Marc Cohn. We’d both wanted a true partner to be in love with, which is what this songs speaks to, and we were blessed to find each other.

I’ve had two weddings (although M says we actually got married three times), and neither was large enough to merit music or dancing. They were both outside, so in the first, the music was the wind in the pines and strangers singing acapella to us from the next rocky promontory over. In the second, the music was the sound of the waves. That sea song was sweet enough — no other accompaniment needed. On our next trip to the Retreat, I think I’ll ask Alexa to play both of our songs. It will be a nice housewarming.

Do you have a song with your partner? If so, tell me what it is in the Comments. I’d love to hear it. One day, I’ll write about having a soundtrack to my life, something I think we all have.

Daily gratitudes:
Hawks on light posts
Housecleaning room by room
Halo Top ice cream
Snuggly Cat

P.S. Mr. Man and I also have a song: “Can’t Help Lovin’ Dat Man” by Ava Gardner from the musical Showboat. I have loved this song for decades and only realized this weekend that it actually references “Mr. Man”. It was just meant to be.

Mr. Man, the Snuggly Cat himself.


Moving in Slow Motion

It’s astounding how much one human can accumulate in ten years. Ten years ago, I moved from the Cottage to the Bungalow. From six rooms to nine rooms. In starting the move to the Retreat, which will require combining two houses into one, I’m determined not to move anything that I haven’t touched, held, examined, and decided I need or want to keep. While K and I made this same agreement when we moved out of the Cottage, we were only about 60 percent successful. Not this time.

This is a much more gradual move, in part because it involves getting two houses rental-ready, and because the location of the Retreat affords limited access to large trucks like U-Hauls. When there’s snow (which there is), it’s really not possible. I don’t even know how a real moving truck could manage in good weather. We’ve been moving in pickup truck loads — boxes of books, but no bookcases yet. Containers of car parts, but no tools yet. Baking dishes, but no silverware. The previous owners left a significant amount of furniture, so the Retreat doesn’t feel like we couldn’t live in it — just like we don’t quite yet.

I haven’t lived with anyone but K (part-time) for a long time, so it’s been a new experience to have to share my vision for the Retreat with M. We’re very good at talking things through, and he’s wonderful about taking us back to a clean slate when we find ourselves diametrically opposed in our plans for each room. This whole long process of house-hunting, making offers and being disappointed, finding the right place, and overcoming the challenges that buying a house in the time of COVID has presented, has strengthened us as a couple. We’ve grown even stronger since we acquired the Retreat, working exceptionally well as a team, clearing trees, pushing cars through the snow, seeing what we missed in the excitement of the new house seek-and-find game, and figuring our what we need to do to fix things.

We’ve been married for over five years now, and have been together for nine and half years. When we say we’re finally moving in together, more people than we can count have said that maybe the reason our marriage is so good is because we DON’T live together. We choose not to believe that. We’re approaching it as something we’ve wanted for a long time, and finally get to do together. That said, I’m still a little cautious. I’m rather set in my living-alone ways, and I don’t know what it will be like to live full-time with anyone else. One thing I’ve recently learned about myself is that it takes me a while to grow accustomed to the idea of change. A dear friend recently defined this as an “adjustment issue” and I’ll go along with that.

I guess that for me, slow motion is just the right speed.