“Alexa, play music.” I didn’t know I could use Alexa until yesterday. I like to listen to music while I cook dinner, and yesterday being my 14th wedding anniversary, I was wrist deep in minced herbs when I thought hey, some tunes would be nice.
Alexa told me she was going to select a song from “my soundtrack” which sounded a bit ominous, but in for a penny, in for a pound: I let her choose. Crash into Me, by Dave Matthews, started playing.
It’s my wedding anniversary and the most romantic and cheeky song ever is selected by a robot. (I know she’s not exactly a robot but don’t pick nits, eh?) Dinner prep just got all the more delicious. I’m singing and swaying and chopping away, feeling the sweet nostalgia of my early days with Tom.
A younger version of me would be wistful (ok, pissed off) that Tom was not sharing this delightful moment with me. I’d be sad (translation: angry) that I was experiencing this awesome romantic moment… alone. I’d have been filled with longing (make that regret) that my partner and I could not enjoy the same nuggets of goodness the weird world occasionally serves up. Tom doesn’t like the same music as me. Hell, he isn’t even especially interested in music (the horror) and stopped listening to anything new after he left high school. The soundtrack of my life isn’t something we can enjoy together.
He will never feel the way I feel about music. I will never feel the way he feels about woodworking.
Tom is asleep on the couch. He is 63, and he is tired. The past two years have knocked the stuffing out of both of us in different ways. He needs rest, and a fat month of deep restful sleep, desperately. So do I, although I’d settle for being able to swallow without pain, a swallow that doesn’t get hung up mid way down my esophagus. An 8 hour stretch without a hot flash wouldn’t be bad either but I’m not that greedy. The pandemic hit us both hard, with loss after loss. It hasn’t stopped. We’re both beyond tired, beyond stretched to the breaking point.
Tom indulges me. When a local cover band advertised that they were presenting Genesis’ Seconds Out album in its entirety, live, I had to go. Tom came along, happy to dress up and have an evening out. He was proud (and perhaps entertained… and maybe a little embarrassed) that I sang along to Every Single Word. I had that whole double album memorized. The stranger sitting next to me was a little surprised too, but since his son was the drummer, he was pleased. I tried to not to sing too badly off key.
When the Queen movie came out, I had to see it. Tom was game. I wept, sobbed, and hit pause to explain some aspect of why this was SO EMOTIONAL for me about 27 times. He isn’t uninterested, and he’s willing to be schooled … but it’s just not his thing. And once upon a time, that would have been a deep wound to me.
But I’m not who I was back when I was falling in love with Counting Crows’ August and Everything After album. I’ve grown, and mellowed a bit. I’m not the emotional ogre I once was, ready to rip limb from limb any partner who failed to meet my needs, the rageful victim of neglect. I’m a grownass woman, and have the hot flashes and meno-belly to prove it. I use coping mechanisms, count to ten, go for walks, and consider others’ perspectives. I’ve learned and I’m learning. It’s actually kind of fun.
Most importantly, I’ve learned compassion. Some of the lessons have been loud and yeah, there’s been some kicking and screaming. But loving is a hot mess of process, patience, and tolerating imperfection. Understanding his current status and honoring it is an act of love. It’s one of the few things I can do to ease his burden – to understand and consider his perspective. Being happy – fully happy (ok, ecstatic and almost psychedelically transported into another dimension) because of a song on the Amazon music app is also an act of love. Loving Tom means being happy – fully happy – and enjoying this crazy fucked up life in any given imperfect moment. The life we live is deeply imperfect and so are we. But it’s also good enough, and worth being happy about.