Getting Our Groooove On

That's the love of my life, on the left.

What do you do for love?  What do you do for yourself?  In the end, what’s the difference, I say!  Take music and athletics with Eric and me, for example.

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!

I got it -- he wanted me to do a half ironman; next up, full-length.

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 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 🙂

Best little garage band on St. Croix; Eric with the fist pump.

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.

Summit: 40-something guys remembering their garage band days, and grateful to have survived!

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… 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.”

Taken with iphone of reflection in windows -- call it "artsy", please.

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,






21 Responses to “Getting Our Groooove On”
  1. Heidiopia says:

    Don’t you find your life is so much fuller when you’re doing things together with the one you love? I see golf lessons in my future :). Great post!

  2. Pamela says:

    It is, Heidi! I wrote this two years ago. Now, when I think about it, I see all the reciprocating togetherness things Eric has done to be with me since then: four marathons (aha! it’s his fault my foot is messed up — he should have told me NO) with me, and helping me write two books. Everything is better together. GO FOR THE GOLF LESSONS!!

  3. Heidiopia says:

    Yes, I will have to– it’s either that or take up fishing 🙂

  4. Pamela says:

    Golf! Less bugs.

    You know, some people are mismatched as to their need for togetherness, which would be tough; or the partners are both not in to togetherness, which I understand although I can’t relate. I’m just lucky to be matched up well with someone who puts up with my presence as much as I want him to.

    And thank God I don’t have to fish. I just have to do an Ironman?!? Ha.

  5. Dan says:

    With you two, it doesn’t seem like a long way to the top after all if you wanna rock n roll!

  6. Rhonda says:

    This is a very humbling read for me. If I wrote on the same topic, it would be just the opposite. My husband is also a musician….and has several “obsessions” that don’t include me…. mountain climbing, biking, golfing, hunting, not all at once, mind you,they come and go, but suffice it to say, if I’d adopted your attitude long ago, our lives would be entirely different, no doubt. Then again, my husband is more of a loner, so he may perceive such devotion as more of an intrusion. But, I’m humbled, nonetheless. Eric is a lucky man, and you are lucky as well (in that he prefers to spend his time with you!) You continue to inspire me, Pamela!

    • Pamela says:

      Thanks. I think, though, that a) I learned a lot, getting divorced at 38 and b) as couples we all have different needs for togetherness. The way in which Eric and I are most lucky is that we are matched in our need for intimacy. Both of us have a very high need for it that might smother different partners, i.e., you mention your husband’s need for “alone” or “noncouple” time. I’ll blog on this soon, but we have been doing (get ready for me to induce the gag reflex) a WORKBOOK on INTIMACY — and he hasn’t even threatened to divorce me yet. The hilarious part is that when we reached the section that really dealt with what we needed to work on…those pages are now ripped and wrinkled. One of us * may * have thrown the book and another of us * may * have held it up under the other’s nose in a death grip to help the other read it again. Anyway, point being, I was sooooo afraid (I am still some days so afraid) of messing up this relationship that I want to last my life time that I find myself doing things I never would have done before and being happy that I did, everything from music and triathlon to painful self examination and earnest attempts to change how I treat others/him. We’ve talked often about how different our marriage might be if we’d married younger. We hate that we missed so many years we could have been together, but we know that we’d bear scars from those younger years that might have been near fatal. p.s. The book was awesome and really helped us figure out how to deal with a few particular ways we were not respecting each other the way we wanted to. Again, I’ll blog on it in the next few months, when I swing back over to my serious side.

  7. LBDDiaries says:

    What amazing insight and after 16.7 years, I see I have things to learn about Alpha Hubby, too! What you said in your comment above, “our need for intimacy. Both of us have a very high need for it that might smother different partners: – wow. and Amen. I told AH that I loved “too much” (what ex had said) and he was, “Isn’t that perfect. I happen to need a lot of love.” We also wish we’d met sooner but realize that who we were when we met meant we had become perfect for one another. Better late than never to find your true love. This was a very good post!

    • Pamela says:

      Sadly, I think the “second time around” aspect makes a difference (at least for us). We appreciate finding the one, we recognize the one, we treasure the one.

      You might enjoy “couples that make you want to puke” post. Since you can relate yours and Alpha Husband’s experience to our mad-crazy love.

      • LBDDiaries says:

        I did enjoy the Couples that make you want to puke” post – I enjoyed reading about Leland and myself… oh, I mean about you and Eric.

        • Pamela says:

          Re your email (and now we talk about “inside jokes” and “offline emails” in the comments haha — hey kids, if you want to be cool, you can twitter or email with us too, we just “met” last week): I SO AGREE and that’s part of why i wrote this about you and Leland oops I mean Eric and me. I’ll answer the rest in a reply to the email 😉

      • LBDDiaries says:

        *Ahem* tap tap.. is this thing on? Ladies & Gentlemen, I am here to announce that one can develop an instant long-term e-friendship that defies e-logic. I have to believe that there are doppelganger couples (since I just discovered this couple is living my life. Well, except for the former beauty queen part, the tall, slender and gorgeous part, the bike fanatic part, everything else is JUST THE SAME!) and we are a rare breed, living in a tiny minority kingdom of happily ev-ah aftah (that’s a southern accent there) that defies description!

        So if you, too, want to be cool, do what Pamelot said – twitter her! She is twitter-worthy.

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