Sunday, January 19, 2014

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How Listening to My Wife’s Music Helped Me Feel Closer To Her

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On a whim, I was listening to “Rolling In The Deep” by Adele: my wife’s music. Mel always listened to the same mixed CD of her favorite songs; it had been in the car for over a year now. It was in the CD player, so I let it play.

I call it her girl music: Dixie Chicks, Adele, and Paramore. There were also a few songs by Christina Perri, an artist that Mel and I often argue over. Mel thinks that she is soulful, while I think lines like, “You’re gonna catch a cold from the ice inside your soul,” sound like a bratty junior high girl going through a break up

But then again, I said that about many of the musicians she enjoys. I never really understood her music. But I’d never really tried.

I was driving alone, taking a movie back. It was 10PM. Dark out.

Mel and I often listen to my music in the car, not because she likes it, but because I insist. I’m kind of a jerk that way. We drive and I tell her about the time I saw this band or that band: “The singer jumped off the stage!” or “Henry Rollins shook my hand!” or “I was crowd surfing and someone stole my shoe.” Mel nods, as though she’s interested, but most likely she wants me to shut up. So much of her love for me is shown through her toleration of my ridiculous stories and my obsession with old punk bands. Sadly, I’m 31, we’ve been married for almost 10 years, and I didn’t realize this fact until about six months ago.

Whenever she makes me a mixed CD, or tries to get me to listen to a song she enjoys, I always push it aside, or mock it, or simply tune out. Not that we attend many live shows anymore (we have small kids), but when we did, they were always performances by bands I enjoyed, the kind of music that is played in basement clubs, or run-down bowling alleys. Angry bands that left Mel’s ears ringing, and prompted her to ask if the lyrics were in English.

I’ve tried to cram my music down Mel’s throat for years, because I feel that it has shaped my life. It’s important to me, and so I assume that means she needs to find it important, too. She must hate the way I force my music on her, and I have to assume that what she hates even more is that I have never really given her music much consideration.

But as I drove, I had a change or heart. I felt like changing. So I set fire to the rain with Adele. I took a few side streets so I could say goodbye to Earl with the Dixie Chicks. And I made a loop around the Wal-Mart parking lot so I could invest in the misery business with Paramore.

Strangely, as I drank in her music, I thought about my ex-girlfriends. I thought about heartbreak and redemption. I thought about my wife, what we have, how crazy I am for her, and how our relationship is so much better than any relationship I had before.

I wondered if this was what Mel felt while listen to these songs. Perhaps she thought about her ex-boyfriends, how they’d hurt her, and how I was her redemption. Perhaps I set fire to the rain?… whatever that means.

I’m not sure.

But what I do know is that listening to Mel’s music made me feel closer to her, like I better understood her through it. And even though I was alone, I felt closer to my wife than I had in years.

Now I have an Adele Pandora station on my office computer. I have one for the Dixie Chicks, Paramore, even, Christina Perri. The stations are on rotation with my punk stations. It’s an eclectic mix that somehow represents the harmony of my marriage. I still don’t really like Mel’s music, but I must admit each time one of Mel’s songs comes up, I can’t help but smile, and think of the way sings sings in the kitchen, softy, under her breath. 

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Clint Edwards is a tutor coordinator at Oregon State University. He is also the former co-host of the Weekly Reader on KMSU and a graduate of the MFA program at Minnesota State University. His writing has been listed as notable by Best American Essays, and has been published in The Huffington Post, and The Baltimore Review, and through The University of North Dakota, Boston College, Emerson College, The University of South Carolina, and Minnesota State University.

 

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