Body, soul, rock & roll

Now that the party's over and the proverbial cat is out of the bag, I can now say that Jeff's graduation present was a DVD player. I was one of the last of our group of friends to be let in on the present-giving scheme.

I told Jeff that he owes a large cross-section of our group of friends a massive set of hugs. Preferably several hugs for each person.They, these silly, wonderful, whimsical, caring geeks, would be gratified to know that Jeff and I spent most of the day glorifying in our geekdom, playing with the DVD player and marveling at the aural and visual quality we're getting from it. I have a DVD about the making of Steely Dan's Aja album, and we had great fun listening to the dissection of the album and hearing nuances that just can't be heard over computer speakers.

We sat in our usual places, he and I: he curled up on the love seat and I sprawled on the couch, practically purring at the goodness of it all.

Jeff tried to explain some of the intricacies of musical time signatures to me. I often grow frustrated because I do not play an instrument, and some of the more common musical terms just escape me. My sense for what I find aesthetically pleasing is quite sharp, but when it comes time to explain the fundamental theories behind my decisions, I quickly become so very, very lost.

On the DVD this afternoon was a mention, by a drummer, of "half time." I did not know what that was, so Jeff, with hands slapping on thighs and a bit of vocal syncopation, attempted to demonstrate the concept for me. He backed it up with a song selection that helped illustrate the differences between half time and 4/4 time.

My grasp of the concept is rudimentary and barely adequate, but I did at least learn something—I think. I will be able to recognize that particular beat the next time I hear it; just don't ask me to play it.

While we were discussing, I noticed a particular trend in our conversation that surprised me. After some thought, it occurred to me that the discussions of a newlywed couple are frantic, hurried, rushed at their core: the urge to find out everything, know everything about the person you've climbed into the life raft with, so to speak. The urge to know everything they know, to hold each other's thoughts in toto is a very strong urge indeed.

Somewhere along the way, the two of you relax. It becomes clear that you can't know everything. You stop actively attempting to absorb each other's consciousness into your own, stop trying to grok each other senseless, and just get back to living.

At that moment, the tenor of the discussions shift. No longer is it quite so important to know every little thing. At some point, the conversation becomes a lazy, unhurried ramble. The two of you sit together and talk idly about the idiosyncracies in a favored vocalist's style—

Me: "As I am so wont to do when no one is around, I was singing along with Donald Fagen and then I suddenly realized something. I can echo and mimic just about any vocalist I enjoy, especially after I've listened to their music for quite some time. But it dawned on me that I can't duplicate anything that Donald Fagen does with his voice."

Jeff: "Got an example?"

Me: (a new CD put in the player) "Listen to this. He twists the words in such a particular fashion. It doesn't sound strange to a casual listen, because it just works. But if you start listening actively, and attempting to do the same thing with your voice, you realize how intricate and just how damned odd it all is."

We digressed. We wandered. I played musical free-association. Jeff Porcaro did some significant drumwork with Donald Fagen / Steely Dan on a couple of albums, and so I pulled out some of his drumwork with other bands for comparison. We talked about time signatures, my spouse and I, vocal stylings, why active listening is so mentally tiring…

..and then I got up and made dinner. It was time.

We had time, and plenty of it. There is comfort in getting, first, past the mundane: to reach down deep and speak, truly speak, with another person about the things that truly matter to you. It is a deep well, and any adult should have a myriad of things to talk about.

Then there is the more sly, more insidious comfort: when, possessed of a fairly reputable emotional map of your mate, you find enough comfort and trust to let go of the constant pursuit of depth. How peaceful and exhilarating it is to share a room with someone who already knows your preferences; to not need to re-create an existing connection. To have a continent of past experiences so vast that its ever-presence allows you to lose track of its presence.

Instead of striving forward, higher, faster, stronger—to relax, body and soul, and talk about music on a lazy Sunday afternoon, while the rain takes its own sweet time falling to the lawn and flowers outside.