Monday, February 20, 2006

Fall Inside Your Eyes

Susan Martinez writes:

I didn't notice it was happening at first. Percy Sledge's Shining Through the Rain CD arrived in the mail, and I'd slipped it in the car player, where it got spun an errand at a time for weeks. One day my husband came home from a grocery run, going on about "that song in the car" and humming to himself. That evening headed for dinner out, we idled the engine and listened to Percy's version of "Fall Inside Your Eyes", the bass pulled tight to the percussion in a lovers' slow dance. Percy's voice was tender and sweet:

And I fall inside your eyes
And I'm drowning in your love
I can't bring to my mind
What it was that I was thinking of...

When the song ended, he looked at me with a gush I hadn't seen in a while. You'd think we were young lovers hidden on a romantic hilltop on a starry night, rather than a middle-aged couple together 21 years, parked in a loading zone with a line of cars impatiently signaling for our space.

Whenever I went for a drive, I could tell he'd been listening to that song, it'd just be fading out. Sometimes I knew because of the way he'd come up to me when he got home, wrap his arms around my waist and nuzzle my neck. When he picked me up at work or to go out, the song would be cued as I opened the door. He'd even find excuses to drive me places. One summer evening, he surprised me as I was walking home: waiting at an intersection, the sunroof open, sunglasses on, his arm resting on the window. I walked to the passenger side and said "Hey sailor, is this jitney taken?"

"Hop in for the ride of your life, little miss," he grinned, and he hit the play button. We drove two blocks home:

I can't explain why I feel this way
Just one look from you
And there's nothing I can do...

The first year we lived together, he was in the trenches of his graduate thesis. He'd work until 1 or 2 a.m. and be back at his office before I woke in the morning. Some nights I cried myself to sleep, desperately lonely but deeply in love. But that May when the lilacs bloomed, he'd pick a cluster of blossoms on his midnight walk home and rest them on the pillow next to my cheek. In the morning he'd be gone by the time I wakened to the lilac on the pillow, flowers wilted but the perfume still sweet. I knew he would always be there for me.

I send this out as a dedication to my co-blogger Danny and Lauren, a toast to their wedding this spring. My best friend told me that on my wedding day I should stop every once in a while, look around, and take it all in a snapshot at a time. I'm so glad I listened. From that day I remember my mother starting to cry as she walked me down the aisle; my husband's full heart as he said "I Do"; my 3-year-old nephew playing hide-and-seek in the skirt of my wedding gown as Claudia Schmidt, Peter Ostroushko, and Oscar Lopez played "At Last"; the magnificent red strawberries dipped in chocolate as waiters passed them on broad silver trays; the glow in the face of my friends from The Ark and WDET who conspired to hold a surprise folk festival in our honor the night before.

My friend gave me good advice that day, and she gave me a kind of peace as her gift when just before we walked down the aisle, she held my face in her hands and said "No matter WHAT happens I will always be here for you." I pass her spirit and that peace to Danny and Lauren. I wish you lilacs, and moments of clarity, and a beautiful song breaking through just when you need.

Congratulations and love,