Friday, January 30, 2009

Life's Soundtrack

Isn't it amazing how music can bring back an era of your life so vividly? It's like a time capsule of emotion.

I've moved away from music in the last decade, and usually listen to NPR if anything. So my musical tastes are a bit stunted in growth and still stuck back in the college years. I haven't bought a CD in...sheesh, I can't remember the last time. And I've downloaded maybe 5 songs on iTunes, other than ones I've used for slideshow-movies about the kids' first years.

In the car yesterday, I found my book of CDs from way-back-when. I'd shoved them in the doorwell and forgotten about them. One of them was labeled "Favorites" and looked like a mixed CD, so I popped it in.

Omigod.

It was like a time machine warped me back to when Steve and I were dating over a decade ago. I remembered listening to those songs as I was sorting through things and falling in love with him. Oh my. I was shaking my head in disbelief at the clarity of memory those songs brought back. Tearing up at other times. I was astounded. It brought everything back with such a profound emotional punch.

I remember listening to those songs, trying to figure out what my life would be like if I married him. Loving him so much, but not sure I wanted to move into the Marriage stage of my life. We both wished we'd met each other later...older...when we'd done a few more things on our list and then were ready to move into a more settled period.

It was truly horrendous timing all around for meeting the Perfect Partner, and we had a lot of compassion for the doubts the other one was feeling. A strange way to bond, in hindsight, but I think it was part of the chemistry. Knowing that it was such a good match that it defied horrible timing was a pretty good indicator that this was the relationship that Had To Be. Even now, I'm more convinced of that than ever.

I remember fearing that I'd be pushing aside my vision for my life in exchange for being with him, but in the end deciding it was worth it because he was the one I needed/wanted. When I stacked up living around the world and grad school in New York, it paled in comparison...so the "tough decision" ended up not being so tough in the end.

There was a song on the CD ("If I Were You" by Collin Raye) that I specifically remember turning the tide for me. I was driving back from Minnesota and it came on the radio - and I felt like it was directed right at me and my wonderings. During that song, I knew I was going to marry this man...no matter what it would bring. That it was going to be okay if my life was more "settled" than I wanted, because I was going to be with him.

What a strange moment it was to have this song come back to haunt me, as I look in the rear-view mirror at the three little persons I made with this man. The things we've been through together. The evolution of self and relationship. Being broke with him and living in that scary apartment complex in Colorado Springs, when we moved out there on a whim with no jobs or housing lined up. Him championing me to finish my MBA when that one finance course kicked my arse and I wasn't sure I could get through it. I had no faith in his faith in me, but he was right. When we decided to sell our home and have him go back to school to teach, because we wrote a new mission statement for our family that demanded more work-life balance. All those job changes and living at all those addresses and finding our niche as selves and as a family. Having our three children. Moving here to Virginia Beach, which marked our new phase of permanence we started doubting we'd ever have. This is the place we're supposed to live, and we both found our perfect geography in moving here. Losing my mom.

What a patchwork quilt we've created already, and we're only just starting out.

Had I been given a crystal ball back in 1997 about what lay ahead, I wonder what I would have thought. Would I have been scared at the chaos of our first decade of couplehood? Or relieved to see how much stronger every strange life situation made us, building up the foundation of memories and inside jokes and shared experiences?

What a treasure that CD ended up being. And odd, too, that Steve wouldn't connect with any of it. =) We've lived parallel existences of music, as he wouldn't have touched Country with a 10-foot pole. So they captured so much more of my own introspection, even, than any events of our lives together. I think it was even better that way, for my serendipitous walk down memory lane.

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