Friday, May 28, 2010


Bruce Springsteen and the E Street Band--"If I Should Fall Behind (live)" (mp3)

Today is 27 years. It is not easy to believe.

Twenty-seven years ago, we exchanged vows in a country church in rural Kentucky (redundant for emphasis), a church where every seat was taken, a church where every seat taken we had cleaned ourselves two days before the wedding. It was that kind of church.

My parents ended up left behind the mass exodus back to my wife's house for the reception. They got lost. They stopped to ask directions. They were told, "All roads lead to Dixon." It was that kind of wedding.

By the time we got to the reception, all of the champagne was gone. It was a dry county. My father-in-law thought one case would be enough. He was wrong. The moment we walked into the house, a receiving line formed, and we spend the entire reception in that receiving line, greeting and exchanging pleasantries with everyone who had come all the way up until it was time to leave and my wife's mother stood at the front door, weeping and basically begging her not to go. It was that kind of reception.

We got into a car and headed off to our honeymoon. North. Mackinaw Island, Michigan. We made it as far as Evansville that first night. We had had nothing to eat. We didn't get anything that night either. The next morning, my wife wanted coffee and remembered a place nearby and I walked around the hotel three times looking for it, but it turned out to be a place outside a different hotel in a different place. It was that kind of honeymoon.

There is nothing harder that anyone will do in their lives than be married for 27 years or less or more. That is not a comentary on my marriage or anyone else's. It's just a fact.

Marriage involves not quitting when every other part of your life involves quitting. Don't like your job? Quit and find a new one. Don't like your church? Same thing. And it holds true for your grocery store, your health club, your magazine subscriptions, your lawn service, your cell phone provider, your dog, you name it. Don't like them? Quit them. Get rid of them. Find new ones.

Don't like your house? Build an addition. Paint over it. Put siding on it. Or sell it.

You can't do that to marriage. Marriage runs counter to every other aspect of our disposable lives. And if you make it to 50 years with your spouse, it's an absolute miracle. It means that you have probably been blessed with both understanding and long life. Few people get both; many hope to get either.

And so, 27 years feels like a special day, even though it's an odd number and doesn't fit the media definition of recognizing key benchmarks that come in fives.

It's a special day because it was to be celebrated with Neil Young tickets in Knoxville, something that didn't happen because my daughter lost a close college friend to an unexpected medical condition and my wife accompanied her up to the services somewhere in Central Michigan and I sold the tickets and now whatever happens today will be low-keyed and perhaps unworthy of marking such a milestone, except that whatever happens today will mark the day (it can't help but not) and, in doing so, will nudge the journey forward, ever so uneventfully, toward 28.

Springsteen's "If I Should Fall Behind" is, arguably, one of the finest songs about a long-term relationship ever written. It was originally available on Human Touch (or Lucky Town, I can't remember). Unfortunately for listeners here, the recorded version is far superior to this live version.


Jason said...

Congraulations Bob. My best wishes for 27 more (at least).

I love Mackinaw Island, btw, although I suspect it has changed a lot since you were there, and even since I was last there.

BeckEye said...

Happy Anniversary!

goofytakemyhand said...

It's on Lucky Town.

Happy Anniversary to you Bob and your lovely wife!!

Been to Dixon. That town has so few people, you could fit them all into a church.

troutking said...

Great post. Happy Anniversary! Maybe you can hear that song at a Springsteen show for #28 or 29 or 30. Here's hoping!

Billy said...

You can't do that to marriage. Marriage runs counter to every other aspect of our disposable lives.

This is a great post, and 27 is as worthy and admirable a milestone as any. But it's precisely the fact that your above statement is wrong that makes it so admirable.

People quit on marriage all the time. (Sometimes for perfectly acceptable reasons, but still.)

Congrats, and Happy Anniversary.

John said...

Congrats, bro!

Daisy said...

Love this post! Congratulations to you and Mrs. Bob and condolences to your daughter on the loss of her friend.

Barely Awake In Frog Pajamas said...

Congrats on the milestone.

The first time I saw Bruce with a full band, they did "If I Should Fall Behind." One by one, each member stepped up to the mic to sing a few lines with Bruce. It was as poignant a live performance as I think I've ever seen.

Chris said...

That's some mighty fine bloggin' right there. Congrats on 27 years.

jed said...

i'm sorry for your circumstances but happy anniversary anyway.

Thom Anon said...

Whoa, and I thought mine and the wife's recent 7th was a major accomplishment.

Every day is a re-dedication and cheers to you for doing it for 27 years.


PS--Neil's recent setlists have been mediocre at best, no great loss in the grand scheme.

Randy said...

Happy Anniversary, Bob. Hope the wife is home soon so you at least can celebrate with a meal at Magoo's.