Last night I found myself in a dimly lit music lounge sipping a gin and tonic while listening to a rock ‘n roll band playing loudly and energetically. I turned to Tara and said, over the wailing guitars and pounding drums, “I’m living the life I always wanted.”
Call it a three-chord revelation.
Many years ago, I saw the movie Singles. It centered around a group of twentysomethings in the Pacific Northwest as they dealt with work, relationships and hobbies. I was the exact same age as the main characters when the film came out, but my life couldn’t have been more different. While they were hanging out in clubs and bars listening to music and navigating the minefields of new and complex relationships and following their dreams (those dreams weren’t even working out in the movie, but there was a certain romanticism in the fact that they were trying their damnedest regardless), I had already settled down into a monotonously routine existence that would slowly and methodically stifle me. I was envious of those characters, even if I couldn’t put my finger on the exact reasons why. Now, with the benefit of hindsight, I can fill in the blanks. I won’t go into a lot of details. Let’s just say I wasn’t being true to the person I really am. Fortunately, one day I woke up and realized that, and did something about it. The ensuing years were often a struggle, but look at the end result. Like I said to Tara, I’m living the life I always wanted. It took longer than it should have, but you know what they say: better late than never.
That life isn’t just about rock ‘n roll, though music is a very important part of the equation. We went to two concerts this week – a big arena show with The Black Keys at the Portland Rose Garden on Monday, and a smaller, more intimate gig with a couple of local Northwest bands we both like, Campfire OK and The Lonely Forest, at a much smaller venue – the Doug Fir Lounge on East Burnside Street – Wednesday night. Both were awesome in their own way (and I have the ringing ears to prove it). The Black Keys put on an elaborate, energetic show chock full of lasers and strobe lights and played some of the hookiest, most soulful rock music out there these days. The Doug Fir was small and candlelit and intimate, and the bands were an arm’s length from where we sat. Tara and I bonded over music right from the start, and there will be plenty of concerts in our future. We’ve already got The Shins in Bend over Memorial Day weekend and a few days later, The Moondoggies at another small club in Portland. A mix of popular bands and lesser-known local acts. I like that.
But as I said, this life is about more than just seeing bands play live. It’s about being in a loving relationship where both partners are equals, never take each other for granted, and actually have fun together. We’ve both had our share of less-than-perfect failed relationships, and this has given us a strong appreciation for what we’ve got now. It’s a reason why we’ve never had a single argument or cross word, and still make out like a couple of lovestruck teenagers half a dozen times a day. There’s a passion I’ve never experienced before. The relationship is just one more piece of the puzzle, though. There are so many other components. Friends. Family. Traveling. Hiking. Cooking good food. Following your passions (like self-publishing a novel). And through whatever strange confluence of events, the stars or planets have all lined up almost perfectly (jobs are the last missing link, but I’m confident they’ll fall into place, too). Hence, my comment last night. What’s especially great is recognizing those moments while you’re living them, instead of looking back someday and thinking, “things were going pretty well then.”
Funny how revelations can come from the oddest places. Kite strings and intimate music clubs have made me introspective in the past few days. On Saturday, we’re having a yard sale. Can’t wait to see what kind of wisdom I glean from haggling over the price of a 99-cent apple corer.
Here’s a clip from The Lonely Forest. This is probably their “signature” song and the one they closed the show out with last night. Enjoy!