When it comes to musicâ€”the worldâ€™s most universal art formâ€”the lady and I often have what you might call misunderstandings. In fact, we pretty much hate every single thing the other person likes and, barring a few examples (Bikini Kill, Descendents, Kind of Like Spitting, Mirah and Jawbreaker), itâ€™s hard for us to agree on anything. Weâ€™re both pretty stubborn people, and these differing opinions have, on more than a few occasions, turned into shouting matches so bad that weâ€™ve had no choice but to walk away and regroup later, acting as if nothing happened.
But now that sheâ€™s been in the hospital and the ghost in my closet has upped his terror schedule, Iâ€™m starting to think that maybeâ€”just maybeâ€”Iâ€™ve been a little too hard on the things she likes.
After nine straight days of watching her endure one of the craziest coughs Iâ€™ve ever heard, I forced my registered-nurse girlfriend into the car and took her to the emergency room at Christus St. Vincent Regional Medical Center. She didnâ€™t want to go, but after hacking up what I can only describe as a veiny chunk of lung, she begrudgingly agreed. Following an irritating several hoursâ€”during which I watched a nurse sit motionless in a chair and stare into space instead of helping anyoneâ€”we finally discovered that my beloved was suffering from pneumonia and would not be allowed to go home. This suckedâ€”not only because nobody wants to stay in the hospital, but also because the house we share is fully, full-on haunted.
It occurs to me that even though I think Joanna Newsomâ€™s voice is like the proverbial fingernail on the chalkboard, the freak-folk maven does something for my special lady. And while I think Tilly and the Wall gets away with a sound so boring that if I attempted something remotely similar, the result would be my swift execution, she listens to this stuff and consistently has an honest-to-goodness emotional response.
Days later, she and her emotional response are still in the hospital, and Iâ€™ve been so worried that sleep seems like a distant memory. The helpless feeling that comes from having a severely sick loved one has really thrown a wrench into my already shaky shower schedule, and work has become a barely tolerable blur.
Even so, I envy this woman. Iâ€™ve been involved with music in one professional way or another since I was about 15, so I have a hard time listening for the pure pleasure. I find myself nitpicking and dissecting and trying to isolate the good and the bad within a songâ€™s composition. In other words, musicâ€”that which I love the mostâ€”somehow became a chore when I wasnâ€™t really paying attention. But for her, music is an outletâ€”a means to relax, an enjoyable way to compare feelings with fellow humans that she might not ever meet, but connects with through the power of lyrics and music. It is magic.
So even though I know sheâ€™s going to come out of the hospital as healthy as ever, watching her go through all of this really makes me think about how precious she is to me. And even though our relationship has its fair share of problems, Iâ€™ve decided to ease up when it comes to her music. Itâ€™s a small step, but I tried to keep it in mind when I cracked open her iTunes last night and scrolled through her playlists. As it turns out, weâ€™ve got a lot more in common than Iâ€™d thought. Sure, the artists might not be the same, but the styles are close enough.
As I stepped outside to light a cigarette and enjoy the cool breezes of spring, I found myself practicing a million different ways to say, â€śThat Dennis Driscoll guy you like isnâ€™t so bad.â€ť