Send This Smile Over To You
A little less than three years ago, I shot a music video for “The Rest of My Life” in which I feigned to move into a hip New York City apartment with a beautiful blonde. This weekend, my fiction became reality. And what a reality.
I announced my impending cohabitation to a colleague Thursday afternoon. I hadn’t seen Josh in years. Since our last handshake, he had gotten engaged and married, become a father, and moved to New Jersey.
“It’s a hole new world, dude,” he said. “Brace yourself.”
My family moved four times before my eleventh birthday. I’ve moved four times since. That I approached this one with confidence, then, shouldn’t be too surprising.
Saturday morning, I sold my Marshall JCM900 Dual Reverb Tube Amplifier for $460 to a nice fella’ named Dave, guitarist for the burgeoning rock quartet, Actual Facts (“We have a British front man,” he beamed).
Afterwards, I said to Abbi, “Let’s make sure we spend this $460 on something good, something whole — a desk, a table, a chair. I don’t want to fritter it away on clothes hangers and a wicker hamper.
Thirty-six hours, two parking garages, two end tables (Ikea), one recycling bin (Target), shower curtain (Bed, Bath & Beyond), and various closet organization technologies (The Container Store) later, I have $136 in my wallet.
I knew intellectually that this move was going different. Despite Josh’s warning, though, I was woefully unprepared to find myself answering the following on a Friday night at Bed, Bath & Beyond:
“Babe? Waffled or quilted shower curtain?”
Which is kind of it in a nutshell. It felt like every second I spent beneath those fluorescent lights was one less song I’d write, or one less show I’d play. I could practically feel the rock bleeding out of me.
Before I go on, let me say straight up: Abbi is the best. She is the only woman I’ve ever known with whom who I’d want to embark on this incredible journey. And she’s probably the only woman crazy, patient, and cool enough to do so with me.
My adjustment to being a couple isn’t so much about her, really. It’s about me wanting to do right by her, and for for her. It’s about figuring out how to decide things together: who to be, where to go, what to do. For thirty-five years, the most complicated question I had to answer was, “What do you want to do next?” Not so much anymore.
Moreover, the whole thing pushes me way, way outside of my comfort zone. Everything stresses me out: driving, shopping, spending money — everything. But when there are two of you, you can forget about sitting it out. There’s no, “Nah, I’ll stay inside and do it tomorrow.”
In the moments after Abbigail said yes to my proposal, I whispered, “We have no idea what we just got ourselves into, do we?” Which I meant both ways: it will be more difficult, and more rewarding, than we could imagine.
It’s already been both. All I could think as we trudged like lemmings through Ikea was, “I want to shoot myself in the throat.” Just a few hours later, sharing our visions for our wedding ceremony over a burger and beer at Peter McManus on 19th & Seventh, I was so happy, and having such a fun, meaningful time with Abbi, I actually busted out a few tears. It’s been funny too. Earlier, Abbi said to me, “Listen, now that we live together, no more hanging your running shorts on the door knobs by the crotch, ok?”
I took a few summer school courses between my sophomore and junior years at Syracuse. Towards the end of the semester, my “ENG 217: Post-Empire Brit Lit” professor, a young, bespectacled NYU grad, told us he was about to get married.
“Some afternoons,” he said, “I find myself out on the highway driving as fast as I can.”
I thought of him this afternoon, speedometer pushing seventy-five, hands planted firmly at ten and two, Smashing Pumpkins at ten on the CD player. For the first time I could sort of understand.
In the few minutes of the long weekend that Abbi and I haven’t been homemaking, we’ve watched two episodes of The Sundance Channel’s “Iconoclasts.” Last night we watched Fiona Apple and Quentin Tarantino, this afternoon Lorne Michael and Paul Simon.
“This is something that I decided to do when I was twelve years old,” Simon said. “I decided that I want to be a rock ‘n roll musician and write songs. That’s a twelve-year-old’s decision.”
Since I was a kid flipping through the pages of Rolling Stone, all I ever imagined of adulthood was distorted guitars, wailing amplifiers, an adoring audience, and rose-colored footlights. As Abbi pointed out, though, “Even Tommy Lee has to change diapers, honey.”
In the final frames of “The Rest of My Life,” I wake up to discover that it was all a dream. Tonight, I am sitting on the couch with my beautiful fiance. The bed is made, the stereo is on, the walk-in closet is in order, and we’ve unpacked 37 of our 51 boxes.
Tonight, I am home.