Years ago my husband and I went and saw Adrian Belew from King Crimson play a solo acoustic concert at the Majestic Theater in Detroit. One of my favorite songs he played was Old Fat Cadillac:
Philip and I were reminiscing about that concert late this evening out on the porch under a full moon. Both of us are audiophiles – it was one of the first things that drew us to one another beyond just physical attraction all those years ago, just before my twenty-second birthday, and we’ve seen many, many concerts and shows together over the years, giving us fun memories to share...”Remember when we saw Elvis Costello at the Fox and the security guards let us move from the balcony to the front row because we were the only ones dancing?…Remember that time we saw the Dave Brubeck Quartet downtown at the Montreux-Detroit Jazz Festival?…Remember how much fun we had dancing all night at Frog Island when Buckwheat Zydeco played and then Terrance Simien showed him up? Remember when…remember when?”
Our children love, love, love to hear about the time before they were born, when these two people they call mom and dad were actually young and crazy and romantic and fun. They can hardly believe it but they love to hear about it. They will say to me, “Daddy says one time you guys saw the Grateful Dead in Chicago and someone stole your shoes and you had to go to the show the next night with bare feet. Mom, is that true?” They are filled with amazement that this person who is always barking commands and warnings about tedious things at them – Brush your teeth! Make your bed! Take your vitamins! Don’t do that foolish thing you were about to do! – used to dance barefoot, eyes closed, transported away by the pure joy of the music. But I suspect they are also glad we aren’t still those people now. Children need their parents to be grown ups.
Yet I think it is comforting to children to hear that their parents loved each other, loved just being together, loved having adventures and making a life together, before they ever had children and Serious Jobs and mortgage payments and greying hair. I’m glad we can give that gift to our kids and that we can give them the gift of our having stayed together even through those times that were hard, when it wasn’t fun and romantic, when we didn’t feel like dancing barefoot together.
We don’t dance so much now; we sit on the porch together at night, my husband smoking, and we look at the stars and remember when. It’s not crazy and adventurous but it is peaceful and warm. I have spent well over half my life with him, through incredible highs and some pretty serious lows, and he’s still there and I’m still here and neither of us is going anywhere until one of us finally goes to meet our Lord.
No matter how badly we may have messed up in other areas as parents, at least we can give this to our children, the gift of our marriage, imperfect but permanent for as long as we both shall live.