I know I’m writing this on a Sunday night, and while the kids are gone and I should be able to get to sleep at a reasonable hour, the reality is that I’m not able to. I don’t know what’s hit me, but I’ve got no desire to sleep and less ability to close my eyes this night than I even had last night.
And last night was a doozy.
Saturday was awful for the mere fact I had to close the final door. I went to the monument company to give the final payment, finalize everything and arrange all the details. Your natural tendency is to get the best thing you can find for the person you lost until you realize that even just a flat, flush with the ground, basic rock with just their name and dates on it costs more than $800. That’s one of the cheaper monument companies, by the way. I went with a reputable one just so I know I’m not having to fight with them just to finish it.
I get that, in the middle of all this, I feel like I’m skimping. It’s awful to put a price on what you place for the love of your life. It’s even worse to do it and not be able to tell anyone. My relationship with Andrea’s folks isn’t at its peak, to put it mildly. Her sister has so many stresses I felt awful just asking her to say whether the picture I chose was OK. My kids didn’t want to deal with it and it’s just not something I want to talk with my folks about. The person I’d face these issues with, the one who understood all that I’d be going through, is there in the ground. I asked her, but got no peace or inspiration.
I have to be honest, the title up there is simply due to the thoughts that were racing through my mind through this whole weekend. I never, ever, cheated on Andrea. I wrote the song up there years ago, just after Abbi was born, because Andrea would have bouts of insane jealousy. When she did, there was no reasoning with her. Right after Abbi was born I decided I needed to do what I was good at and that was news. I went back to the station where Andrea and I had met and began working in the very same job all over again. But in that job I worked in a control room with a bunch of really young, very attractive, very outgoing young women. I don’t know if you’ve ever been in a newsroom but they’re neither politically correct nor are they clean-mouthed pillars of culture. The reality is it’s closer to “The Newsroom” by Aaron Sorkin than they are to “Broadcast News.” The stress is so great that the part of your brain that shuts off those little synapses that stop cursing, innuendo and silly suggestive talk is gone.
So when I worked there and had to do election nights or late stories or what have you Andrea would fly off the handle. She’d hear names of people I worked with and just lose it. I knew it wasn’t the women I worked with it was that I was back where we’d met doing the job, the romantic notion of what we’d done together, and she wasn’t. The reality is the newsroom was dirty, decrepit and small. The production quality was just so-so and the stress was immense.
I wrote the song not realizing how many people would think I was telling a true story. I actually wrote it to show Andrea I knew that A) I was far from anyone else’s ideal as a person to have an affair with and B) the consequences of even thinking about that were too great and C) I loved her . . . more than anything.
But this song has come back to haunt me so many times. A producer I worked with in Dallas heard it and thought there was no way I’d been faithful. He even thought he could check my past and find who I’d had an affair with. He never found her because it never happened.
Try as I might, thinking about all the amazing things we did, the four children we had, the amazing times we shared, this weekend I couldn’t shake the memories of those arguments and that song. It swirled through my head. It wasn’t that I was angry at her, nor that I was guilty or feeling guilty of anything. What I started to realize – not for the first time, mind you – is that I handled it all so poorly. I always had such poor self-confidence that started to bleed over to me all over again. I’ve shown you pictures of Andrea, she was gorgeous. To think I’d leave her to find someone else, that just seemed silly to me. Worse yet, I used to make flippant comments and give the implication that those same women could do far better. I never took into account that belittled Andrea’s decision and love for me.
It didn’t end our marriage. What I came to realize years later was she was just as insecure, though I said the same things she likely tried to tell me – what on earth are you worried about? To me, she had a smile that would outshine the sun. Her personality was intoxicating. Where I wanted to be a stick in the mud she just grabbed my hand and made me come along.
More than anything else I sat this weekend wishing I’d been far less aggravated; far more flexible; far more loving; much more adventurous; much more attentive. It’s easy to have 20/20 hindsight, I know that, but if I’d seen what my future held I would have embraced that frivolity with both arms and never let go. I would have taken those phone calls where she was lonely and simply dropped everything and gone home. I’d have kissed her goodbye every day just like I kissed her in those first, halcyon days we shared as young lovers.
The sad fact is that my frustration led to one of the easiest written, best songs I’d written by that point. My brother, Adam, actually continues to play it live himself, he enjoys the song that much.
When I got home Saturday I didn’t want to be me. I didn’t want to face the fact that my life is what it is. In one day, one fell swoop, I paid a bucketload of money (for me) and was dragged back to March of last year like someone had wrapped a rope around my waist and jerked me backwards.
On the way home I stopped at a record store to look for something to take my mind off it. I found an old Brubeck album – on red vinyl. So Saturday night I poured a glass(es) of 18-year-old Scotch, put the complicated, fugue-style jazz on the turntable, and tried to pretend that I was Don Draper . . . just for a night . . . and didn’t care about the consequences. It didn’t work.
After all, as the song I wrote said, the Midnight Confessions . . . brought my tears.