We’re 30 years married today. You come together full of love and optimism and joy, this boundless passion, a sense of youthful fun, and even a touch of fear, and 30 years on you’re first wondering where all the time has gone, ever faster with each month and year as we age. Then you’re wondering what hit you, and how you’re still standing, and who is this still standing beside me and why is she still standing beside me?
I still worry that she could’ve married the men she dated before me who had money; it would’ve been haircuts and travel and golf clubs and kiteboarding and watching him read The Economist, and all that other boojy shit we both hate, but I stress about her having had a less stressful life. But then we recall those things beyond stress and opportunity, beyond dollars and cents or the hands of a clock, even beyond joy, beyond all we thought we knew. Beyond what we thought we wanted, and who we thought we were, together and apart.
What lives beyond it all are these extraordinarily beautiful lives we’ve created, from a small bit of personal biology and supernal summer sex, these lives that tower over our puny personal achievements and paltry desires, these lives that in a large way define us, these lives of our children. And through them you see what’s truly still standing is not merely a man and a woman, wondering what hit them; what’s still standing is love, this selfless, enormous, enduring love that stopped calling attention to itself long ago.
I’ve learned from you that there is no you and me with this love, there’s simply no mine and yours in our love. You believed in me and bet on me when I did not know how to do the same for myself. I trusted everyone blindly while you trusted sparingly and wisely, I loved too widely and too freely while you loved a select, tight circle of family and friends; I said too much while you kept things very close to the vest.
So we nudged each other toward something higher than ourselves, toward a more efficient place in all things–not just trust, and not just love, and surely not just forgiveness. We nudged each other toward an US and a united way of experiencing and interpreting the world. A marriage.
Love, and the way in which you express your love, in far more grand and lasting ways than my flimsy, flowing, bargain words, was always seeking something higher than the two young people we were and the jejune world we still dwelled in 30, even 40 years ago, for it has been 40 years since we first met and fell in love. You allowed me to flourish in art and music and learn to love and grow and make mistakes–we were then able, with space and time and opportunity, to build a home that defeated the world for a while. And that’s when human beings are at their best. When the world that can defeat us and stomp our dreams stays outside for a time, and comfort and confidence are not the constant goals, but instead they’re the things an artist or a child (is there a difference?) can assume as they try and shape a world that as yet does not exist–with little else except their own imaginations.
I’ve loved you profoundly and been obsessed with your happiness, with your well-being and joy, and worked each day to create and sustain it, even as I sometimes did stupid things to undermine it and us, as is the case in all marriages. I’ve written so frequently about you in my songs–they’re seemingly all to or about you. The very first verse of the very first song I ever released was you:
Up the stairs she flies, her hair like wheat in a windy field
Throws the porch door open wide, moves like water in a memory
The radio on, an Elvis song, whips through the window like a child gone wrong
Long gone, long gone are the days we stole like thieves…
Or this line, about the very best of times, when everyone was healthy and alive…
They may not last for long, but honey these are famous times.
They were famous times…and no, they didn’t last for long. Fall we did–as low as we could go. At that horrible bottom is where you really shone, doing Herculean things as only a woman can do Herculean things, working and raising two little children while I slowly died then learned to live again over several years, only to be with you. Darkness lingered, as we lost parents and time and money and more tears than Hell’s bucket could hold, but we learned to understand together that life is fucked up and messy and at best a bittersweet existence…but we had each other. Time passes; things change, people come, people go. However, I turned to you last night and was not only able but thrilled to say that I love you more than I did 30 years ago today.
Here’s to the hard times; may they never come again. Instead, here’s to SO many good years, and famous times. 30 years married today. I love you J.