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Ten Year Date-A-Versary

This post is going to be a bit mushy, so if you don’t stick around, I understand.

Last month, our friend Py Korry posted about his "date-a-versary" with his wife, J.  I was glad to read it, knowing I’m not the only one who remembers this and thinks it "counts."  Everybody celebrates their wedding anniversary, but in my case, Jessica and I dated for almost eight years before we got married (granted, we were 18 and 19, respectively, at the time).  That’s eight years of Jessica putting up with my shit.  Those years can’t go uncounted.

Today is our ten year date-a-versary.  And since this is a blog where I primarily focus on music, this is how I remember that first date, and the few months after it, musically.

The first song I ever remember associating with Jessica – and this probably goes a long way in explaining our relationship – was "Dead" by They Might Be Giants.  Odd choice for a "first song," yes, but it was only because the Flood CD was in her player at the time.  That being said, she serenaded me, and came off as utterly charming and goofy.  We talked a lot that first evening, and learned a lot about each other – and I remember one song, and one song only, popping into my head: "As We Go Along," by The Monkees.  There’s a phrase in that song that immediately seemed perfect:

And you shouldn’t be shy
For I’m not going to try
To hurt you
Or heal you
Or steal your star

I immediately went home and, smitten, did the only thing I felt appropriate: I made her a mix tape.

Trying desperately not to sound too obsessive, I lied and just happened to mention that oh, I was just making a completely random mix tape, and, uh, would she like a copy?  For that reason, I didn’t hide too many secret messages in the tape as to how I was feeling.  I just included songs that I thought represented my musical tastes, hoping she’d think I was cool.  Songs like "Optimistic Thought" by Blues Traveler, " "Africa" by Toto, and, just for fun, "Who’s On First" by Abbott and Costello, just because I had a bit of room at the end of Side 2.  (Why I thought she’d find any of this "cool," I have no clue.)  There were two hints to my affection for her on the tape: the aforementioned Monkees tune, and "We Meet Again" by Nancy Wilson, from the Jerry Maguire soundtrack – one of my favorite movies at the time.

I don’t think either of us intended to start a serious relationship, and if somebody had told us we’d be where we are today, we both would have run.  But we didn’t.  Instead, we took it day by day.  And we sang together.  A lot.  I’d drive her from the North Campus (my dorm) to the South Campus (her dorm), and we’d sing at the top of our lungs.  She taught me "Birdhouse In Your Soul" by TMBG, I taught her "Baba O’Riley" by The Who, and together we learned songs like "I Love My Boss" by Moxy Früvous.  Late at night, we’d put on Fumbling Towards Ecstasy (which we both believe is the last good Sarah McLachlan album), and she’d softly sing "Good Enough" by Sarah McLachlan as I was falling asleep.

Music continued to be an important part of our relationship.  I made more mix tapes.  We learned songs to sing to each other to keep us entertained, like the night in Belgium where we waited in the freezing cold forever for a train to Switzerland, and belted out "Never There" by Cake on the empty platform.  We went to concerts.  Lots of concerts.  We drove two hours in a snowstorm to Syracuse to see Früvous (the drummer shot us a dirty look as we smooched during one of his songs).  We’ve seen Barenaked Ladies a dozen times together.  I even dragged her to The Who, and she didn’t complain once.  We’ve seen Indigo Girls a dozen times as well.  We decided, like many, I’m sure, to make "Power Of Two" our song, and got a smile from Emily Saliers as we slow-danced in the second row.  We even sang it together during our wedding ceremony.

We still share a lot of our musical tastes.  These days, we sing together to songs like "Does He Love You?" by Rilo Kiley and "If You Were Gay" from the Avenue Q soundtrack.  (We’re more than a little warped.)  She puts up with the music I force on her, still gets angry the minute I play "What A Fool Believes," and I swear I heard her humming "Magnet And Steel" the other day, though she would never admit it.  Just the other week, I learned for the first time that she knows the lyrics to about 15 Helen Reddy songs, and there is something oddly satisfying in hearing her softly sing "it’s so nice to be insane, no one asks you to explain" from "Angie Baby."  She encourages me to sing and play whenever possible, even when it means she has to listen to the same guitar and piano parts for days on end as I try to play them correctly.  When I play gigs with Mike, she’s always in the front row, singing loudly along, even when she only vaguely knows the words, which always cracks me up.

There’s this one musical memory of Jessica that will stay with me forever.  Four or five years ago, Mike and I played an outdoor gig at around 1 in the morning – the Relay For Life all-night cancer benefit on Long Island.  It was raining, we were cold, we had very few in the audience, and I played some awful piano since I could barely feel my fingers.  I was getting pissed at myself, and was doing a poor job at hiding it from…well, anybody.  Jess came up to sing a song with me, gently put her hand on my back, and calmed me down. 

Then, she started mugging and dancing like a goofball, knowing it would put me in the right frame of mind.  She’s always been quietly available in moments like these when I get overwhelmed or stressed, musical or otherwise.  I’ll never be able to thank her enough for them.

She’s my wife and my best friend, and like I said, she puts up with me, so she’s an angel, too.  Happy ten years, sweetheart.  I love you more than I could ever express in a dinky little webpost.

  • J

    That’s about the sweetest thing I’ve ever read.   Happy Date-A-Versary!
    We were together a long time before we got married, too…maybe that’s why we feel the need to recognize those years as well.  Or, at least, I do.  PyKorry always forgets. ;)
    Anyone who’ll teach you "Birdhouse in your soul" is a keeper.  And in those early days, yeah, we made each other a lot of mixed tapes.  Love that.

  • Velma

    Awwwww! Congratulations to the two of you!Soren and I count our anniversary from our first date, as well.

  • Very nice Jason!  A heartfelt tribute to your wife and a nice peak into some nice memories  of your life. :-)

  • T

    My bride and I also count back to our first date (Sept. 3, 1979) so take heart! We weren’t married until 1988 and we’re amazed about how the time goes by. We’re celebrating our 19th Anniversary by going to the Grand Ole Opry at the Ryman Auditorium this weekend. Happy Anniversary to you two and keep posting the great music!

  • I think I’m going to cry. *struggles mightily for control*I love you too, goofball. (What he doesn’t mention, of course, is that for all the things I do for him, and the goofiness, and all that… clearly no one tops Jason for thoughtfulness and romantic moments. *gush* And no one can come close to Jason’s ability to clown around and make me smile, giggle, and generally feel better about life. :* )

  • Steve

    Very sweet story.I hope you both have many more goofy, happy years together.

  • It is a pretty safe bet that in any picture where Jason is holding a guitar, I am about three feet out of frame playing along. Wedding included.
    I’ve known Jess pretty much from the beginning, to list her good qualities would take hour. Suffice to say she’s uber-gregarious, completely adorable and as Jason mentioned above, the most gifted "Jason-wrangler" the world has ever known.  They are perfect together and  I am very  lucky to be friends with both of them. Congrats kids. Many more.
    (Also, I haven’t listened to Fruvous in years. I Love My Boss is brilliant.)

  • Oh, I also like Jason. Jason is…also good.

  • This post makes me very happy.<p>My favorite Moxy Fruvous song is "Fell in Love".

  • Jane

    Congratulations to you both — may the next ten years together be even more special for you.

  • Phil

    Thats one of the best blog posts Ive ever read, dude. Way to go!

  • As someone who never fails to remember the anniversary of my wife’s and my first date, I totally know where you’re coming from…and I also feel your pain about people raising their eyebrows about "Dead."  My wife and I discovered that, many years before we ever met, we were almost certainly in the audience together at our local art-house theater for the area premiere of "Sid & Nancy."  As such, we have a "Sid & Nancy" movie poster on the wall of our living room…complete with the film’s tag line, "Love Kills."  My mother still shakes her head whenever she comes over…

  • jb

    Beautiful stuff. Congratulations on being so disgustingly happy.

  • So cute! Congratulations to you both.

  • So many italics being used in the comments here.  People must feel very strongly about your marriage, Jason.  Congrats on the first decade and the next ten decades (you never know) to come!

  • Oh yeah, I forgot to mention that you might find this book interesting.

  • What the huh? All those italics are gone in Safari. Must be a Firefox glitch.

  • Yeah, Robert, I don’t know what’s going on with the italics issue.  We’re looking into it.  And thanks for the suggestion about the Sheffield book – a bunch of people have mentioned it to me recently.

    Thanks, everybody, for your really sweet comments.  I have to admit I was a little nervous posting this one, because it was so personal, but your comments really put me at ease.

  • Elaine

    I just heard a line of dialogue on tv.  A woman said to a man, "Ever notice how nobody spreads around information about someone’s hidden virtues?"  He responded, "Yep, it’s always gossip about scandal."  Well, you, Jason, just proved them wrong.  How refreshing.  Congrats, you two crazy kids!

  • tad

    sweet, congratulations on the date-a-versary!

  • Mom

    Well you made me sniffle. How can a Mom be so lucky..to not only have the sweetest, most thoughtful son in the world, but to have him marry as special a woman as Jessica. You make me smile, and I love you both. Happy 10th date-a-versary.Mom

  • absolutely darling. congrats :)also, I love that Rilo Kiley song… it’s probably my favorite of theirs.

  • Congrats to both of you.I’m glad you figured out that you like her ;)