What You Give

J and I don’t have the same taste in music (said before). And we don’t have the same relationship to music, either. I sing to myself a lot when I’m alone. I love listening to music practically all the time. It’s always on in the car. It’s on when I write. It’s on when I’m folding laundry. J only listens in the car with the volume on low, just in case they break in on the radio to alert him of a traffic jam somewhere on the way to his destination, or when I’m in the car with him. He doesn’t dream about seeing musical artists perform live. He messes up the lyrics a lot, even with songs he likes. (For real…AC/DC’s Dirty Deeds? Yeah…J really thought they were singing ‘Dirty deeds in a thunder jeep.’ WTH is a thunder jeep!? He asked me what it was really. ‘Dirty deeds and they’re done dirt cheap.’ “Oh. That makes a lot more sense…” SIGH.)
And I’m really wordy and sappy and sentimental and he’s just…not. I’ve literally written novels based on my big, layered, complex feelings of love and gratitude and devotion to J. Every love song reminds me of him. Every happy ending in film. Every Shakespearean sonnet, every Walt Whitman and W.H. Auden and Elizabeth Barrett Browning and John Keats poem. I know. TOTAL sap. I’ll tell him all those words too…movie quotes and book passages and especially song lyrics. J shows he thinks about me and shows that he loves me in much more grounded, practical ways. Like by scheduling repair contractors on days he can be home with me so I don’t get freaked out. He restructures our retirement plans when it’s needed, because he wants us to have a secure future together. He says things to me like, ‘Your car needs new tires before you drive it to <outing over an hour away>, so I’m taking it in this weekend,’ because he wants me to be safe all the time. Our expressive love languages are about as different as our tastes in and relationships to music.

But an extremely important way we ARE alike? J and I are both givers. And, like many givers, we spend a whole lot of time and effort on the takers that surround us. Other than a few treasured friendships outside of our marriage for each of us, most of our time is spent doing things for other people that are either incapable or unwilling to give us anything back, sometimes not even a ‘thank you.’ Usually, this doesn’t get to either of us, especially when we are doing things for say…children…or sick people…or people who are financially less fortunate than we are (although THOSE people usually say ‘thank you’). But when we are always the ones to show up, to complete a project, to solve a problem, always the ones who sacrifice time or talent for someone else’s benefit, without any reward at all, it can weigh on us. OK, mostly ME. J is incredibly generous, and he sometimes seems to me to have a bottomless pitcher to pour from. He lets a lot more go and expects a lot less than me. I admit there are times I feel cheated and taken advantage of by mostly clueless selfish people.
But I never feel like that when I give to J, no matter how much I give. I always feel like the selfish one…like I’m getting more out of our life together than he is. And now I know why. I’m so used to not getting any recognition or appreciation or service from anyone, that when I get it, it’s the absolute best, most gratifying feeling, but maybe so good it must be ‘wrong.’ And J gives me that all the time, every single day. When I give my service and gratitude and appreciation to him, I’m actually *getting it back,* which has only really consistently happened with J. He gives me so much; at least as much as I give him. Which brings me to today’s featured love song. 

J has only ever once, in all the time we’ve been together, told me that he heard a song that reminded him of me. Of us. And he understood all the lyrics. (‘I looked them up to make sure they were what I thought they were…’)
This song is from one of ‘his’ bands. But I love it. Not only because I’m a sap that loves that J told me ‘this song makes me think of you,’ but because of WHY it makes him think of me. It’s about how we’re alike. It’s proof that he understands me and my feelings even though we don’t show them the same ways, normally. And I can’t help but think of him whenever I hear it now too. For obvious reasons…it’s Tesla’s What You Give. 

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