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29 Years, 29 Songs

December 11th marked the second year of my divorce and I can say wholeheartedly it was the best decision I ever made. My recovery  is ongoing and from the end of my marriage -> singlehood: it has been my objective to approach it as positively and healthily as humanly possible. We all have moments of sadness, anger – little triggers. But I refuse to linger. Instead, I have chosen to exercise my way through it, walk on the beach, catch the sunrise … I get my ass up and move with my music in hand!

Highlighted below is my life in song – a nice tidy way of navigating through nearly thirty years. 29 Years/29 Songs includes the music where it all begins – how I came to move to NYC, meeting my daughters’ father, marriage, children, the decline, divorce and the rebound and the hope of new beginnings.

It has taken me two years to  get the playlist and my frame of mind in a place where I am comfortable sharing my story. I refused to write from anger, sadness or indifference because it is hard to remember a time love existed. At the stage of acceptance, I see clearly – the good, the bad and the ugly.  My ex-husband and I have an amicable relationship, we co-parent our daughters’ better now than when we were married and my girls are happy and well-adjusted.

The hardest part of leaving my marriage (one reason I remained unhappy for far too long)  is how much I love Dennis’ family – this big bunch of beautiful people. I am pretty sure I fell in love with my brother-in-law Charlie too but in an entirely different way. If I did anything right, I married a man with a family that my daughters love and are loved back. That is a job well done in itself.

As a relatively private person, it is a bit strange to impart three decades of my life. Research tells me given the length of my relationship, it should take me 5.4 years to get through my divorce. Fuck that! After today I will resign this playlist.

 

29 Years / 29 songs…

 

SONG/ARTISTS STAGE OF RELATIONHIP/DIVORCE LOCATION STORY BEHIND THE MUSIC
That Sunday That Summer – Natalie Cole

Theme From New York, NY – Frank Sinatra

Letting Go MA I decided to move to NYC to heal broken heart, not this one a different one! While I knew I did not have a future with the man, I loved him just the same and did what any rational twenty-three year old would do, I hightailed it to NYC and never looked back. That Sunday That Summer/Natalie Cole – Unforgettable was my favorite track from one of my most listened to CDs the Summer of 1991 …

 

 

 

 

… and New York, NY was my anthem.

Breakout – Swingout Sister Acceptance NYC It’s Better to Travel was Swingout Sister’s debut album released in 1987. It reached number six on the U.S. charts and resulted in the band winning two Grammy awards in 1988 – Best Pop Vocal Performance by a Group or Duo and Best New Artist.

I am notorious for listening to the same music repeatedly whether it is an album, CD or now, my Spotify playlists. This was no different. I was working at a restaurant in NYC and I would play this CD over and over and over again … until my workmates asked me to give it a rest. This album, Breakout in particular, helped me heal my broken heart. I clearly remember the moment I made the decision to move on emotionally. I was living on Staten Island  and was riding the ferry over to Manhattan. It was a misty day and I was standing outside and consciously decided I was done wasting my time being sad.

Late In the Evening – Paul Simon Attraction NYC With every ending there is a new beginning. I met Dennis in Newport, RI, at Christie’s on Labor Day of 1991, two weeks prior to moving to NYC.  I had been riding my bicycle and just finished lunch when he “noticed my great legs and beautiful smile” as he told the priest at Pre marriage class (Catholics will understand). Dennis asked me to watch the sunset. We chatted for a bit where I learned he lived in NY and he gave me his business card. Brass Force, a great nine piece brass band, was playing at the time and Late in the Evening/Paul Simon was a song from their repertoire and a memorable song during our courting.
Forever In Love – Kenny G

Freedom! – George Michael

Coupling NYC  Forever In Love by Kenny G is a song from our first weekend away at Martha’s Vineyard. It was love. I played snippets of the playlist for Dennis and our daughters during one of our family dinners and we debated on whose song it was. He remembered the weekend but not the song. Dennis, it was your CD. : )

Another one of Dennis’ songs … I have fond memories of dancing around together to this song.

September- Earth Wind & Fire Commitment NYC Dennis brought me back to the same spot where we met and proposed. The following year we married in Newport at the Astor’s Beechwood. To this day, I hear what a great wedding it was. This song will always remind me of our wedding day. September 23, 2020 would have been our 25th wedding anniversary.
Sea of Love – The Honeydrippers Commitment NYC The Honeydrippers was formed by Robert Plant of Led Zeppelin in 1981 to satisfy a goal to have a rock band with a heavy R&B basis.  Sea of Love was originally written by Phil Phillips and George Khoury in 1959.  The Honeydrippers version rose to #3 on the charts.   Three years to the day, Dennis brought me back to the place we first met. We couldn’t agree on a song.  Sea of Love came on the radio during our trip back to NY from Newport.  Wanting to check something off the ‘wedding to do list’ … yes, it’s great.  It validated our story without us having any real emotional connection to the song.  In 1995 we were married in Newport, RI.  What I love about the song is the way it opens.  It is mysterious like the sea and the melody grows with intensity as the sea can.  Salt water runs deep through my veins.  (read all bout it here).
No Ordinary Love – Sade Power Struggle NYC
Smooth – Santana, Rob Thomas Stability ATL
Isn’t She Lovely – Stevie Wonder Pro-Creation ATL Stevie Wonder is one of my  favorite artists. His tour, Songs in the Key of Life was hands down the most impressive concert I’ve ever seen.

I always said if I have a girl this song would be played at her christening and wedding.

One of the happiest moments in my life was finding out I was pregnant. Without giving too much detail on the fertility process, I was at my final attempt with assisted reproductive technology.  After my pregnancy test I was driving home and Isn’t She Lovely came on the radio and I thought “there is no way God would put this song on the radio (at the time I was going to church daily) if I were not pregnant …” and I was. At my twin girls, Lilian’s & Kathryn’s christening we played this song and danced with our baby girls. To this day, I cannot tell this story without crying.

“I used to think the worst thing in life was to end up alone, it’s not. The worst thing in life is to end up with people that make you feel alone.”      —  Robin Williams
Unknown Legend – Neil Young Denial ATL Period of discontent and feeling trapped lead me into a black hole that took me years to find my way out.
Soulshine – Allman Brothers Denial ATL
One – U2 Depression Breck
Walk On – U2 Depression Breck
I Smile – Kirk Franklin Depression NY
Marriages end for many reasons but the main causes of failed marriages according to divorce attorneys are spouses do not help with the children, poor communication, lack of intimacy/sex, infidelity, couples begin to uncouple and become more like roommates rather than lovers, selfishness, they speak different love languages and/or a spouse is taken for granted. I decided to let the music tell the story. What I will say is, leaving my marriage was one of the hardest things I have ever done. While I knew it was over long before it ended, I questioned my decision until the very end.
Family Portrait – Pink Anger CT An Atlanta friend of mine also chose music as a means to process the end of his marriage and shared his music with me years after his divorce (since remarried) and shortly after mine. It is my impression he was shocked by his ex-wife’s decision to divorce and perhaps was not on the same page. He  played this song on repeat, while he was packing up his life and she was breaking up their family,  to purposely cause her pain. The first time I listened to Family Portrait/Pink I cried (actually every time I listen to it). My guess is he accomplished his goal.

The lyrics … Can we work it out, can we be a family? I promise I’ll be better, Mommy I’ll do anything, Can we work it out, can we be a family? I promise I’ll be better, daddy please don’t leave … How heartbreaking for a child to think they have anything to do with their parents’ (two adults) inability to work things out.

Pink’s music has a way of dealing with the punches life throws in a raw and empowering way.

Blow Me One Last Kiss – Pink Anger NY
In the End – Linkin Park Anger NY
Lost In My Mind – The Head and the Heart Contrasting Emotions CT
Catch and Release – Matt Simons Contrasting Emotions CT
Shine – Mondo Cozmo Letting Go CT I’m not a religious person any longer but I am spiritual. These songs are about redemption … hitting rock bottom and picking yourself up. “Moses told the people of Israel they needed God to circumcise their hearts (Deut. 30:6), and Ezekiel promised Israel that one day God himself would act as a surgeon, removing the dead heart of stone and implanting a heart that beats (Ezek. 36:26).” Christianity Today on born-again Christians is a poetic explanation.
Come to the River – Rhett Walker Letting Go CT
Something Beautiful – NEEDTOBREATHE Acceptance CT
Forgive You – Leon Bridges Acceptance CT
Simple Man – Shinedown

Crazy for You – Madonna

Rebound CT After deciding to end the marriage for the third time, walking on the beach trying to manage my emotions and struggling whether to separate or divorce, I took it from my hands and sent it out to the Universe. Later that day a man from my past friended me on Facebook. We started a a romance just prior to my divorce and I credit him with getting me to the finish line. This ‘relationship’ lasted on and (mostly) off for months. It made me happy. It caused me pain. It was everything. It was nothing.

Simple Man is a song he connected with and often played when we were together. He is very close to his mother and was sadly abandoned by his father.

Crazy for You is my favorite Madonna song and is a song that brought me back to the time I first became acquainted with this man in high school.

Recently we had a text exchange that gave me closure. I had moved on. Instability does not suit my personality. He has since unfriended me and blocked me on FB.

Love Theory – Kirk Franklin New Beginning CT With every ending there is a new beginning …
You Are the Universe – Brand New Heavies New Beginning CT

 

 

2 Comments

  1. Me on December 14, 2020 at 12:37 am

    A brilliant description of the ups and downs of 29 years of life. The analogy with songs makes it very unique!

    • Margaret on December 15, 2020 at 6:37 am

      Thank you.

      Margaret

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