A Love Song



Soggy, Soggy Night 1


“Soggy, Soggy Night”


Soggy, Soggy Night 2Last Saturday we had one of the damnedest evenings I believe we’ve ever had, but for all the emotions of the evening, it had a most innocuous beginning. That afternoon I had brought home a newly repaired CD player, and we wanted to put it through its paces, to see if the repairs were worth the expense.


I’ve written quite a bit about my ongoing love affair with Christine. I sometimes talk about how we came together in that first, long-ago date in April of 1976 and the whirlwind courtship that followed, if that’s the term for such a thing. Really, to me, a courtship is when the male pursues the female, and I’m not at all sure that truly describes what happened that summer, which is not to say that I was not madly in love with her. But for me then—and even now—what I wanted was a mutual, freely-arrived-at decision, which completely let out any thought of my sweet-talking her into it. We did talk love sometimes and certainly… aw, you know! But for me it was just a patient waiting. I made my decision that first night; I was simply waiting for her to catch up to me.


Elsewhere, I have talked about that first evening, and I won’t repeat it here except to say she invited me to her place for a birthday dinner. The moment I walked into her apartment on April 3, 1976, it was as if someone had flipped on a light. Thirty-seven years later it still blazes. But here’s the sad thing about life. Life. It gets in the way because there’s a living to be made and all the things that go into that living. Job interviews, job demands, job emergencies, job, job, job. It never stops, and it permeates every facet of one’s life at times. Even so, whenever we can, to the extent that we can, we block out a bit of time for ourselves. But, man, it wasn’t like that at all during that summer


Consult any reference book and you’ll be told that the Summer of Love was in 1967. Personally, I have long felt that they’ve mistakenly transposed the last two digits. The Summer of Love was 1976.


But to bring this back to where I started, Saturday I came home with a newly repaired CD player while she was running some other errands. We’d both been out of town all last week, so there was much to be done. That night I wanted to show off how good it sounded, which, believe it or not, was better than it did when we purchased it. I honestly don’t remember it ever sounding that good, although the CD I decided to audition for her may have had something to do with that. It was a compilation of Neil Diamond songs from 1968 to 1972, a great many of which we listened to during the Summer of Love. At that time it was vinyl records and wine and candles and each other, only each other, eternally each other. Decades later we got the CD in question, but we haven’t listened to it for years, and when we got to the opening chords of “Glory Road,” my eyes filled with tears. I felt like someone had just waved a magic wand, and I was again in her tiny little one-bedroom apartment where we spent so many deliriously happy hours that enchanted summer.

Soggy, Soggy Night 3 

Then she heard “I Am, I Said,” which is my brother’s favorite Diamond song, and that, in turn reminded her of what he’d done for us on his east coast radio show about a year-and-a-half ago. His show features biographies on various rock and roll artists. I asked if he’d do us the favor of making a mention when he did the Neil Diamond Show. I didn’t tell Christine what I’d done, and I had no idea myself what Mike would say or do. Thanks to the Internet we were able to listen to his show live when it aired. Mike does wonderful, in-depth biographies on these people, taking their career in chronological order. This is what he said at the key point:


“The next release off the LP ‘Mood’ was a song that would be claimed by many lovers as their song. It would be the first dance song at many weddings, and so it was for a man who had spent his entire life listening to Bach, Brahms and Mozart. He and the woman of his dreams chose this to be their song. Joe and Christine live in San Diego, California and have been in completely devoted love for over 35 years. This is Neil Diamond and ‘Play Me.’”


She burst into tears when she heard that introduction that night and did so again Saturday night when Mike’s favorite Diamond song took her back to that moment. By the time we got to “Play Me” on our CD we were both sobbing pretty much and teasing each other, trying to make each other laugh so we wouldn’t sop up so many Kleenexes. We kept asking each other, “Why are we crying like this?” But neither of us would say.


Soggy, Soggy Night 5It’s because life is finite. In the abstract, assuming man is not stupid enough to blow up the planet, it is infinite because one life breeds another, but this solitary life and your solitary life and all those many other solitary lives are finite. All of us know that, and all of us deny it until we’re in the final throes of life. And sometimes even then we will deny the inevitable. But, still, we know. Our lives are finite. One day one of us will end, and when that happens, so ends the relationship. What made us so very sad Saturday night was reflecting on the fact that it has now been over 37 years since that one perfect summer. Both of us continue to be blessed with good health, but for all the blessings we have had in that regard, the clock continues to tick. We have already shared considerably more years together than we have yet to give to each other.


We cried because that CD has so many wonderful memories, but mostly, I think, we cried because it will end one day. The sad, sad thing about loving so intensely for so many years is that you eventually come to the realization that you have already loved more years than you have left to love, that what started out as infinite, an entire lifetime ahead, is now somewhat truncated. And I say that believing—or at least hoping—that we’re still good for another twenty or thirty years but even it if it’s the latter, it will still be less than what we have already enjoyed. So that, as they say, is the bad news.


The good news is that true love is like wine. It really does improve with age. And if we have less to consume now than we did almost four decades ago, it matters only a little because the Golden Years await, when we shall have world enough and time.