I have an old clunky 20 GB white iPod that contains most of the music I owned before. I don't even know if I still have the computer with the iTunes with the library of all the CDs I had once owned and burned. I thought it was on an external hard drive, but I'm not exactly certain where that hard drive is.
But that is an aside.
I took a trip across country in 2007, and the old clunky 20 GB white iPod died. Pfft. Done. Couldn't be revived. And it was horrible at the time because I was driving long days - going from friend to friend. My father replaced it at Christmas that year with a first generation iPod Touch (with LESS memory) which has mostly been replaced by my iPhone.
All of the above is mostly verbal vomit dancing around the real topic of this post.
At some point, after Dad bought me the iTouch, I was surprised to discover the white iPod worked. Still to this day no idea why. But now I have this little (relatively heavy) archive of music I used to listen to.
When I took off on that cross country trip, it was after having had a marriage counseling appointment that my wife had not come to. The third such appointment for couples counseling that I attended singly. In the eight years we had been together, I had learned (poorly) that when my spouse was in this angry place that the best thing to do was to give her space. I sucked at it. I wanted to fix things. I wanted her to feel better.. and I wanted to do whatever I could to help her feel better. But I couldn't. The only way for her to feel better was to leave her be. And that was hard.
I was at a transition point in my life. About to embark on a new job in a new career that I was scared about, but excited about, too. At that moment in time, though, I had no employment obligations and this new career was likely to be all-time-consuming with little to no opportunity for future vacation and I had never driven across country, and really wanted to do so. The lease to the car was about to expire, and since I had stopped the 100 mile daily commute two years earlier, we had plenty of miles pre-paid to spare.
So I got home from counseling, packed up the trunk, and took off across the country. It was a wonderful trip in so many ways, but bittersweet given the circumstances that partly inspired it.
I had a lot of time on the road to think. I needed it, too. And I have to say that my faith in God grew much stronger on this trip. Against all odds, frankly. I remember driving through mountain passes and asking - out loud - what am I supposed to do?
I created this road trip play list my second day in when I was at the hotel at night in New Mexico. In addition to good songs to keep me awake while I drove, I filled it half with love songs and half with "she done me wrong" songs to try and figure out which songs were calling to me more. Seriously. And the love songs were the ones that continued to call to my heart. I loved her. More deeply than I could have ever imagined. Even though she was crazy and driving me crazy and pushing me away.
I loved her. And that was the underlying message I received, at some level, was to just love her. To open my heart wider and love her.
I spent a year and a half doing that, my heart open as wide as it could be, and so when I walked away - when I finally had to walk away, I was done. I was done grieving the relationship that once was. And so, now, when I think back about my ex - and when I have over the last three years, mostly what I feel is numb. Sometimes, I have even wondered whether I really did love her. I had put everything that belonged to her, everything that I had given her that she had literally and figuratively thrown back into my face, and put it into a steel box in my heart that was well protected and from which I was well protected.
When I think about what I was grieving the last three and a half years, it wasn't her. It was my life. It was everything I gave up and left behind. And I never quite knew what to make of it - I kind of thought I should be missing *her* more and aching for *her* more, but I accepted that I didn't because I had already grieved her. And I do believe it. But every once in awhile it made me wonder if maybe I hadn't loved her like I thought I did.
Last night, for some reason (God?) I pulled out my old iPod and recharged it. This morning, for some reason (God?), I decided to bring it into my contract place to listen to while I worked. And I knew that the best of my music was pulled together in this Road Trip play list, so I selected it and hit play.
It started with simple old country with Alabama belting out "High Cotton", (Old times there are not forgotten..) and moved onto other songs that pulled at the strings of my memory. I smiled listening to "At the Zoo" by Simon and Garfunkel, started moving to "Move It" by Baja, remembered romantic evenings from college listening to old Tracy Chapman and Indigo Girls. It was an amusing musical trip down memory lane. I was figuratively patting myself on my back for having such great music. There were some tear-jerkers that I resisted being pulled too deeply into - "Bad Goodbye" with Clint and Wynonna, for example - mostly because they had applied to other relationships, too.
I was just zipping along and enjoying the day's soundtrack - my life's soundtrack - until The Promise by Tracy Chapman came on.
Oh, that song... Five minutes and 28 seconds of heart-tug for me. I think I may have even purchased the CD with that song on it while on the road trip, but I won't swear to it. But I played that song on repeat for hours. Particularly when I was away from my spouse, hoping that she would wait for me...
"If you wait for me.... then I'll come for you....although I've travelled far. I always hold a place for you in my heart..."
Over and over.. "If you think of me... if you miss me once in awhile, then I'll return to you..." I wanted so badly for her to tell me she missed me, for her to want me to return to her while I was on that trip.
"Remembering, your touch, your kiss, your warm embrace... I'll find my way back to you... if you'll be waiting..."
Over and over, hours and hours.. the song just encompassed everything that I wanted when I was on that trip. Everything that I was willing to give to her.... "in a place where I can feel the beating of your heart...."
"Together again.. it would feel so good to be in your arms. Where all my journeys end. If you can make a promise. If it's one that you can keep. I vow to come for you. If you wait for me. And say you'll hold a place for me in your heart."
And with those opening strums of the guitar, the bow across the violin, I was reminded today how very deeply I loved her. How very much I wanted her to have a place for me in her heart.
Generally, these days, if you ask me about the woman I left behind, I speak about it all with much distance. I have grieved the loss of her and I have long since learned to live my life without her in it. It is easy for me - for you - to dismiss the importance she once held for me because I don't feel it now - I can't feel it now. But today, I was reminded. I once loved her very deeply - and all I wanted was for her to make room for me and want me to return to her. And back then, I was willing to wait for her, too...