The first time that Husband and I met, we talked about music. I can’t remember who asked who, but we listed our top five desert island favorite musicians. We liked all the same bands, excluding his weird love of Pearl Jam and my unashamed adoration of the Counting Crows. We both worshiped Bob Dylan. We were both going through a major Ryan Adams phase. I sent him home with a burned him a copy of Elliott Smith’s debut album.
The first time I went to his apartment, I poured over his collection of concert posters, and memorized his music history: when he was 18, he spent his first real paycheck on a pricey, and slightly obscene Red Hot Chili Peppers poster with a flaming skull and a half-dressed woman; the loudest show he ever went to was the Scottish band Mogwai, and he had the signed album art to prove it; he proved he had way more street cred than me when he followed Pavement frontman Stephen Malkmus’s solo career and saw him live in Santiago, Chile. Every time he rode in my car, he flipped through my fat cd case and memorized my changing tastes: when I was 16, I went to my first concert with my mom and my brother and my best friend and then made it a point to acquire every album that any member of Everclear ever so much as strummed a note on; one year later I got really into lo-fi, which is just another word for “sounds like it was recorded in a bathroom,” and boasted a pile of scratched up writable discs labeled in black sharpie with titles beyond obscure; for me, nothing sounds more like teenage rebellion than the Pixies Surfer Rosa. I know identifying all these bands by name makes for a boring post, unless your music history happens to look exactly like ours, but this was our courtship. The names stay.
Over the years, our tastes evolved and grew together. There’s still things we don’t see eye to eye on. I don’t think Pearl Jam warrants the size or rabidity of its fan base; he keeps spending our money on bootlegs. He thinks the Counting Crows only wrote three good songs*; I know they wrote four solid albums. This is okay, because that’s the difference between courtship and love.
Early in our relationship, we separated for two months when I left Tucson to work in New Orleans. During our time apart, two albums came out that we were particularly interested in: Frank Black’s Honeycomb and Stephen Malkmus’s Face the Truth. Husband bought the first album, even though I was the massive Frank Black fan; I bought the second album, even though Husband loved Malkmus. I can only assume he was thinking the same thing I did — that I wanted to impress him, that I wanted to like what he liked, and that I wanted something to tell him on the phone that night.
Two years later, we separated for a year when I left Tucson to go to law school in Michigan. During our time apart, lots of albums came out that we were interested in, including Frank Black’s Bluefinger and Stephen Malkmus’s Real Emotional Trash. Husband bought the first album and, knowing I was the massive Frank Black fan, sent it straight to me with a card and I spent an otherwise unnoteworthy autumn day spinning it on the stereo and thinking about my man. I bought the second album and, knowing Husband always liked Malkmus a little more than I did, sent it to him as part of a makeshift Easter gift. I can only guess that he was thinking the same thing I was — that, two years in, I knew what he liked and I could keep it for myself and learn to like it, too, or I could just send it on to him and let him hear it all the sooner.
Courtship, or at least our courtship, involved taking and changing, ourselves and each other. Love, or at least our love, is all about giving and accepting, ourselves and each other.
*Mr. Jones, Round Here, and Omaha, or course.