A winter chill crept into our sunny spring Sunday and we all donned heavy coats to go to a baseball game. Tickets to the World Baseball Classic between the United States and Japan had unexpectedly come our way, and we jumped at the opportunity for an early ball game before the regular season began. We didn’t expect much of a game, but at least it would be a good show. After loading into our old white minivan, we started the hourlong journey to Dodger Stadium with the sun still hanging on and the sounds of High School Musical blasting through the stereo speakers courtesy of Sophie’s iPod. Sophie and Jacob sang along with Zac Efron and Ashley Tisdale, while I zoned out, as I usually do on long drives, focusing on the road and working out the issues that swirl around in my head. Midway through the drive, Julie reached over and took my hand, a simple gesture that she often does when we go on long trips. As her fingers interlocked with mine I was overcome with a sense of calm.
For years, my hands have become desensitized, calloused from years of drumming and the constant pounding of typewriters and computer keyboards, plus some nerve damage due to an injury during a pickup game of football in college. Besides extreme hot or cold, my limbs are often numb, save for the touch of the woman I love. When that happens, not only do my hands awaken, but my entire body feels a jolt of energy.
As the Disney songs played on, in my mind I was hearing the Dave Matthews Band song, “Steady As We Go.” I’ve only been a casual fan of Dave Matthews and company, so I never would have sought out their Stand Up album when it was released in 2005. However, the astute music supervisors on my beloved television show, Everwood, used the song during the series’ final episode and it immediately hit home. My obsession with the WB’s family drama and its early demise made me want to share “Steady As We Go” with Julie. I can’t tell you how many times she exclaimed, “Oh, so good!” after watching Everwood together. I simply assumed she’d be thrilled to receive the song on a CD mix.
Then a funny thing happened. Well, not so funny, but special and wonderful. Julie didn’t recall the song from Everwood; instead, she listened closely to the lyrics and fell in love with it for a different reason. One afternoon soon after getting the CD mix, she called me at work.
“That song is us.”
“Uh, okay, which song?”
“The one by Dave Matthews.”
“Yeah, that’s a good song, Julie. It was in Everwood.”
“No, dummy, it’s us.”
I had never delved deeply enough the what the song was saying; I was too caught up in associating it with my favorite TV show. As soon as I hung up with my wife I quickly listened to “Steady As We Go” with new ears, no longer thinking of Ephram and Amy, the lovebirds on Everwood, but thinking of Julie and how much the song seemed to be saying about our relationship. I fell in love with it all over again.
I love this woman more than my limited vocabulary can muster. Each week I try to come up with something fresh for the Basement Songs; I try not to repeat myself. Yet I can’t help but come back to the one person in my life who has given me the confidence and encouragement to open up to readers as I do here. How many times can I tell you I’ve been blessed to have Julie by my side? How many ways are there to say that she brings me peace when my insides are at war with themselves, or that she is the foundation from which our family is built, or that she is the beacon of hope when I feel dark clouds swirling, waiting to engulf me? I don’t have an answer to that, but I’m going to keep on telling you about the greatness of my wife until I run out of words.
How does she do it? Sometimes it’s with the words, “I love you,” a phrase with profound meaning. Sometimes it’s with a simple gesture like holding my hand.
The parking lot at Dodger Stadium was filling up by the time we arrived. We found our spot and the van came to a halt. An uneventful drive down the 5 freeway had reminded me of the good fortune we have in our lives. Despite the hardships of our past month, Julie and I will always have each other to keep each other steady during the rocky times. As we unloaded, Julie helped Sophie and Jacob out of the van and we bundled up in our heavy jackets once again. Walking ahead of me, holding Jake’s hand and listening to the conversation the three of them had, I marveled at her, once again, watching as she led us all up to the show that awaited us.