Whenever someone asks how long my wife Charlotte and I have been married, which happens a lot around our anniversary (June 16), I inevitably say something like “16 glorious years.” Truth be told, not all those years could be labeled “glorious.” Some were somewhat less than that.
This year, we complete year 17. When someone asks, and I provide my typical answer, at least that part “17 glorious years” will be accurate. But “glorious” … no. Now, I will say that the last ten or so have been getting closer. As God has peeled away selfishness and other crud that stood in the way of real intimacy, our marriage has become more and better than I could have ever imagined. The process has been hard, but so, so worth it.
Part of this ongoing growth of intimacy, of course, is how well we know each other. Sometimes, it’s quite annoying. I get tired of how right she is about how I can’t hold a conversation and drive at the same time. I wish she’d stop being right every once in a while. Truly though, how we know each other is an immense blessing. She knows when I’m not quite right. I know when she is, dare I say, a tinge irritable. And we know what each other needs when we’re in those spots.
I could provide many examples of how beautiful this marriage is and how intimately we know each other, but I’ll focus here on one… one that is directly related to Tomme Suab. Quite a few years ago, I was in love (I still am, really) with Over the Rhine’s Goodbye off the Roaring Lambs compilation album. If you would have asked me why, I couldn’t have told you. After all, as a child, I was taught “good music” was what was predictable and safe. Understanding the nature of music, or art overall, was never a high priority for me or for those around me.
Some time ago, Charlotte and I were discussing that particular song and she said, “I know why you like that song.” Now, this would also make sense, because Charlotte has an extensive musical background, formal education included. She mentioned something about a “step-wise” movement in the song and explained what that meant. Afterward, from time to time, she would help me understand why I was drawn to certain styles, artists, or songs.
Eventually, she made a pivotal statement which amounted to something like “you don’t listen to music the same way most people do.” She was telling me I wasn’t a casual music fan. That little statement was an epiphany for me. It started me on a journey in which I began to engage with local art and independent musicians, with her cheering me on. It led me down a path in which I became drawn to the fringe, the unpredictable, the non-mainstream. More to the point, it led me to the realization that music impacts me deeply, on an emotional level. It was the root of what has become this blog, these weekly playlists, my involvement with Blugold Radio (soon to be Verge 99.9), and even in other civic activities and efforts promoting the arts.
None of this would have ever happened had it not been for my bride. It is just one illustration of how, aside from my God, she’s the best part of me. She has my heart and to say I’m thankful for her would be a gross understatement.
I love you, Charlotte. May these songs, in some small way, remind you of that truth. 17 songs for 17 years. Like those 17 years, this playlist isn’t perfect (or glorious), but it’s pretty damned good.