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.