After All These Years

A friend is always good to have, but a lover’s kiss is better than angels raining down at me.

~ Dave Matthews Band

1985 . . .

The air in my basement bedroom is cool but my face is hot with tears. I’m on my back, hands covering my face, feeling more than I am capable of comprehending, the first side of Journey’s Frontiers winding down with “Faithfully” . . .

. . . Oh girl, you stand by me / I’m forever yours . . .

Certainly no circus, my life is instead the great boredom of being a teenager, all humdrum and weariness. Yet it is often lived muffled and dim and panting through the flattering sweaty gauze of 80s melodrama. I’m a sucker for a love song even as I struggle to find it, to be held in arms that hold nothing but me.

June 1, 2009 . . .

I stare for a minute at my stir fry, glance around the room at the shuffling of customers and servers, check my Blackberry and read an unimportant email for the third time, realize I’m avoiding meeting the eyes of my wife on this day-of-all-days. So I sit it all aside and look at her. Really look. And I’m taken back . . .

Winter, 1988 . . .

. . . to a time when looking at one another came easy. The simple things, the easy moments, the time spent just staring . . .

. . . carried no weight at all. We floated on a new wind; let it sweep us up, away from the pressures and expectations. Finally, I had a tiny clue what Steve Perry and Co. were singing about. We got some nicer pictures made . . .

. . . and then invited some friends to play dress-up with us on Saturday, June 1, 1991. . .

The day had its glitches: it rained for a spell; my brother-in-law-to-be failed to show up, despite a Herculean attempt to do so, so we had to scramble for a new tuxedo with less than an hour to go; I got bird seed in my eye, a kernel somehow sneaking beneath those enormous Deflecta Shield spectacles.

And there have been glitches aplenty since that day eighteen years ago. The winds that helped us soar have also brought us low, spun us around, and left us parched. For my part, I find it hard to catch her gaze for fear that she’ll see the tears I can’t help crying these days. Tears borne of regrets and opportunities squandered and hope left perched precariously on the edge, afraid to fly.

I know that she won’t let me quit, so I keep her at arm’s length; I push her away with a roll of the eyes or a silence that resounds in the space between us. Passive aggressive bullshit meets its match only when I allow myself to be taken back . . .

. . . to when a promise was still a promise. When my lover’s kiss eased the pain and her embrace gave me strength. Even in a photo booth. After all these years, she still kisses me like she digs me. After all these years, she wakes up next to me each morning and tells me she loves me. And, after all these years, I know she means it.

After all these years, despite how cheesy and melodramatic they may be, I think the guys from Journey still say it best . . .

[photo credit]


20 thoughts on “After All These Years

  1. Very nicely done. I like this song, too. For me, it was more of wanting it to be true, not actually having it be true.

    Congrats on 18 years together. Enjoy every minute together.

  2. Great anniversary post, congratulations to you both!

  3. Congratulations to you both! I hope you’re still doing well. I know it’s been a piece since we’ve corresponded, but that doesn’t mean I have stopped reading your blog. Perhaps we will get together again soon for some breakfast. But for now enjoy your family and especially your wife, like usual your words are poignant and eloquent.

  4. Seriously, she is just cute as button. Congratulations, and celebrate. All the time, celebrate.

  5. Thanks for keeping the bar high—congratulations on 18 years. Happy Anniversary to you both.

  6. Blasphemy………you may burn for that one. The kid is good but come on that aint no Steve Perry. Shame on you lol.

    1. Oh, don’t get me started about the new guy. I’m a Perry man through and through. And . . . nope. I won’t go there. Not here. That’s a completely separate post . . .

  7. Happy anniversary! You couldn’t have said it better. Well, ok, Journey could have… 🙂

  8. Happy Anniversary (though a day late here). You sound so much like me, I mean in the way you look at yourself. I can’t help crying tears lately, or keeping the one who loves me at arm’s length. Your wife seems like a lovely person and by the way you describe her and her actions, she obviously love you so much. Let yourself have that love, enjoy it. You deserve it.

  9. Congratulations on 18 years! It is a rarity in this day and age. I’m envious. Hub and I are going to be so OLD when we finally reach 18 years!

    BTW, I’m a Steve Perry fan as well.

  10. That was our wedding song. Happy Anniversary!

  11. your wife has the loveliest smile

  12. It is like I told yo uyesterday-HAPPY ANNIVERSARY!!!! It doesn’t seem possible that it has been 18 years since we made that big trip from Page, ND to Bemiji-for your wedding. Mom and I were talking about the cake and all of it’s parts and how the station wagon almost didn;t make it carrying all that cake for our son’s wedding!! Thank you so much for getting us a daughter-in-law that is our daughter. We are proud of both of you . We will celebrate when we get up there soon.

  13. Congratulations to you both on 18 years! It’s so fun to see photos of you two as young lovebirds. Love it! Happy Anniversary, kids!

  14. Well, is it me? I didn’t listen to the song so maybe that allay my concerns. Or, do you understand why I’m a bit alarmed by this post?

    Sounds like the toll of the past few months of losses have allowed you to recognize your wife, but not yourself. You feel estranged from your old self and if I’m reading the lines properly, “hope parched”, “opportunities squandered”, “tears borne of regret”, “afraid to fly”…hopeless about developing a future you want to “look” into with equal ardor to the way your wife still loves you.

    Forget about “Journey” and your own journey right at the moment, Brian. I think your heart is fried from life’s losses and challenges. Music unlocks fried nerve endings like no other art form.

    You need to rest and be a vegetable. I suggest a zucchini because it’s summer and people always like zucchini. Your wife’s ardor might wane if you choose to be a Brussell Sprout.

    You have to laugh, my friend. Throw away the yardstick for a few weeks.

  15. Oh man, you made me cry, dammit! This had to be one of the most romantic posts ever. Look that beautiful woman in the eye and kiss her like it’s the first time, the last time; like it’s forever.

    Happy Anniversary you guys – I have to go blow my nose now!
    I just noticed, you got married the same year I did – can you believe it’s been 18 years? Seems like yesterday sometimes.

    PS- Journey is guilty pleasure for me too!

  16. You look like such babies.

    And two pearls (with apologies in advance for the vulgarity)
    Screw the passive aggressive, it only wastes time.
    F*ck the smoking, it only steals time.

    Heres to a lifetime.

  17. All the best to you two. Happy anniversary. That reminds me, I think mine is coming up soon.

  18. belated congratulations. love the dave matthews line best of all.

  19. It’s good to take stock of one’s life and count all the blessings, but life is too short for dwelling on regrets and nostalgia. You’re very lucky to have some one who loves you so much and even luckier to realise it.

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