Getting Our Groooove On
Last year I took piano lessons from a company called Musika, which was a birthday gift from my parents. (Musika — check them out, it’s a cool concept). My parents did not choose this gift because I asked for it, nor did they choose it because they were even told I had suggested to anyone else that I wanted it. They chose it because my husband was desperately trying to find a way to get me to start playing the piano again.
Eric doesn’t just like to hear piano music. Eric likes to see me developing the artistic side of my brain, whether I be singing, writing, listening to music, or playing music. He sees it as an expression of my happiness and a reflection of the excellent care he takes of me; I play piano when I feel stress-free and have enough time to fit “joy” in my life.
He still talks about his memories – powerful, visceral — from Annaly on St. Croix, of his Pamelot playing piano in the middle of the night, with the wind whipping through the windows and into her “Firestarter” hair, the keyboard and speakers cranked full blast, and the sounds of Phantom of the Opera reverberating through 6500 square feet of house and three stories of concrete walls. I guess somehow that memory is me, although it seems a lifetime away, now.
But there is more. Similar to triathlon, music is one of Eric’s great passions. In his “previous life [pre-Pamela],” Eric explained, he immersed himself in triathlon training and practice with his various bands (slappin’ da bass) as an escape. When we first got together, I didn’t understand this.
He showed me video of his band opening for 10,000 Maniacs, and I said, “Cool! Join another band!” I kept trying to make it OK for him to pursue his passions and assuring him that I didn’t mind him taking the time away from me to do it.
It turned out, though, that Eric felt more passion about being together, with the kids and me, than he did about triathlon or music, and he just couldn’t make himself do either of them alone. Eric, by the way, devotes most of his non-work time to taking care of all of us; he loves to take care of people. Of course, he’s spreading it across five kids and a wife, so it is a rather big group to accommodate, sometimes!
So, forget music for a moment: after two years, I finally “got it” about triathlon.
I realized that unless I participated with him in the sport he would never do it again. It was going to be done together or not at all!
So I jumped in with both feet, and, somewhere along the way, the sport became very important to me as an individual as well as to him and to us as a couple.
- We get tremendous satisfaction out of setting, pursuing, and attaining goals together. We used to work together, and sometimes the enjoyment we get from being training partners is similar to the enjoyment we got from being co-workers.
- We are committed to staying strong and healthy so we can enjoy our lives fully, for as long as possible.
- We love being an example to our children of health, commitment and mental/physical strength.
- We enjoy supporting each other, and we love the constantly shifting role of who is taking care of whom in our training relationship.
- Most of our training time is “date” time to us — we simply enjoy each other’s company, and we especially enjoy long bike rides through the countryside, albeit at the fastest pace we can sustain for three to four painful hours.
Even after I figured out that I needed to be a triathlete for Eric to be a triathlete, it didn’t register with me that I needed to be a musician for Eric to be a musician. I’m pretty slow 🙂
I had begged, pleaded, cajoled, and praised his playing. I facilitated him getting back in contact with all his former bandmates. We attended a rockin’ reunion with his hilarious high school bandmates last summer. We have gone to see former bandmates play in new bands. He has been invited to practice and even play onstage with many groups. I bought him new straps and cords, and I talked him through his old playlists. But he just would not open the Fender case and get out that darn bass.
I procrastinated scheduling the Musika piano lessons for nine months after receiving the gift certificate, and I had only 12 months in which to complete the eight lessons before the certificate expired.
Eric quit making his gentle inquiries and just let me stew in it. I told myself I didn’t have time. I thought of all the things I could do with the lesson and practice time that were less “self-indulgent:” work, housework, errands, write, train.
I ran out of excuses; I booked the first lesson. And Eric immediately sprang to life.
“I heard a song that we could play together, with Clark on drums, Sami on flute, and Michelle singing with you as you play keys, too. It doesn’t require a guitar,” he said, before I had even had my first lesson. He began to explain his concept of bringing together each of the kids’ interest in music into family jam sessions.
It finally dawned on me that he wanted from music the same thing as from triathlon: a family experience, an example of bringing something he loved and felt was important into all of our lives for us to do together.
Ahhhhhhhhhh…..it was not about Pamela being selfish. Rather, I was being selfish in not doing it, because I was preventing it from happening for everyone else!
I had my first lesson, and that night I sheepishly told him that I had to practice scales to strengthen my fingers.
“I’ll play them with you.”
Eric had not brought his bass out in six months! But, sure enough, for an hour we played scales together, with him riffing a little every now and then.
He told the kids about his idea that we all play something together. The excitement level shot up in the house, and Clark and Sami especially couldn’t leave us alone while we went through the repetitious and not-very-exciting exercise of putting our fingers to work.
The next night at dinner Clark offered to get online and hunt for songs for us to play. Sami suggested we record a Christmas song on a CD to send with our Christmas cards. She had learned to play Jingle Bells on the flute; we hoped her repertoire expanded before the holidays! Michelle sang through the entire dinner and even brought her choir music in to the dining room table to show us. The whole atmosphere changed, in a very good way.
We ended up recording a wonderfully crappy version of Deck the Halls. Classic! You can still see the end-product under videos on my personal Facebook page.
Every day I get a little smarter about how to be Eric’s wife. I enjoy the smile I see on his face now when I say something like, “I think we should add Golden Earring’s ‘Twilight Zone’ to our play list, honey.”
And even more when we do. After we get back from bicycling, of course.
Tra la la,