Friday, March 16, 2012

The Green

Mrs. Bailey, who lives next door, has been married to her husband for 65 years. She said he’s been five different men since they met. This most recent one is much easier, she said. He’s senile and now she’s finally running the show.
A friend of mine who has been married 10 years, like me, said she’s already on the second version of her husband. He went to war in the second year of their marriage and Jessica wondered, given this pace, how many husbands she’ll have if they make it 65 years.
I married a rock-n-roll drummer.
He played full time in a band called Backyard Green when we got married. We moved to Charlotte so he could play drums for “a living.” It was a life, but I don’t know that it was much of a living.
Pay your dues

We didn't have health insurance, which made his trampoline-broken-leg incident really expensive. We went to church but could barely tithe. We bought groceries on a cash-only budget and mostly ate in the restaurant where we worked. No satellite radio or iPods or cell phones. Couldn't afford them. No house. We rented. No kids. Except us.

The choice to follow the band was mine. I suggested that we make a three year deal. For three years he would pursue this life-long dream of playing drums and I would support us. Someday I would ask for three years to pursue my own passion and I would need his support at that time. We shook on it and moved to Charlotte.
He played drums and I went to graduate school. We pretended we didn’t know our parents were furious with us. We pretended we didn’t care if the power was cut off. We pretended we hadn’t just spent six years partying in undergrad on our parent's tab. We were funding this excursion albeit barely. 
Envision the life you want
When we graduated and tried to begin careers, jobs were scarce and we were under-qualified. The three year proposal came to me as I looked warily at the road ahead of us, the one our friends faithfully followed. If we worked hard, at real jobs, suburbia would unfold before us: a comfortable half-life drained of passion, stacking regrets one on top of the other like backissues of National Geographic. Somebody else's real life captured in the pages while our half-life sagged around us. Babies. Minivans. Soccer practice. 401k plans.
I panicked. We were 24 and 27. There was so much life ahead. Thirty seemed so old. I was convinced that to surrender too soon, to fail to seize the day, would eventually come back to haunt us. At 50 he might look at me and declare he could have been a rock-n-roll drummer if it hadn’t been for me and the momentum of our ordinary life.
I decided we needed to buy a little time to make some big mistakes. We needed to try to be extraordinary. I said, "someone has to be famous, why can't it be us?" If we were lucky, the gamble would pay off and the damage would be minimal.
We were lucky.
It only took two years for his band mates to finish graduate school and decide they wanted to make an actual living. So Cuk went to work for DTC and we are so very glad he did. By 2005 we were comfortably settled in our own suburban life complete with retirement plan, mortgage, and direct deposit.
Remember where you've been
In 2001, four months before we married, Backyard Green played the Five Points St. Patty’s Day Festival in Columbia, S.C. Surrounded by friends and staring up at the stage, we danced and drank all day, rock-n-roll gypsies following a seemingly endless daisy chain of revelry and day-seizing.
This year St. Patty’s Day is on a Saturday. The weather should be perfect and we could really use a party. Green beer, silly shamrock glasses, fake Irish accents, drinking songs, maybe the occasional shot of whiskey. 
Last night I asked my wonderful, funny, handsome husband, HB's Daddy, what we should do for St. Patrick’s Day.
He responded: “let’s cook corned beef and cabbage!” Which, of course, is what we will do.
He still has one year left in our deal and I've managed to preserve all three of mine. Somewhere a new, bigger life beckons us. For now, though, we're just heading to Clemson Road.
My first husband was a rock-n-roll drummer. Fortunately he’s been replaced by Charlie the Tire Guy.


  1. 41 years I have had at least 4 husbands. He hasn't gotten any easier yet.

  2. Great post! I guess this is something I should keep in mind for the future!


  3. Funny...I used to see Backyard Green play fairly often at Tyber Creek.


Love Builds Confidence

Going into the archives for some classic blogs to get this blog resurrected. It's no longer The 41st Year and Life on Clemson Road is, ...