Suddenly the world seems such a perfect place . . .
A friend told me she recently watched the movie Moulin Rouge and it reminded her of my wedding, specifically the song “Come What May.”
I laughed at first, for two reasons.
The first was that I forgot there was a prior version of myself from way-back-when, when I used to love that movie and that song.
The second reason I laughed was because I forgot it was our wedding song.
How do you just forget the song you danced to at your own reception?
I spent nine months planning our wedding. Years of dating had yielded plenty of inspiration. Then there was The Proposal, but I was uninterested in using a Disney song. Or perhaps Hubby was not on board. I can’t be expected to remember these details when I can’t even remember what we chose.
No one particular Disney song fit us, anyway.
There really was only one song that we could even begin to call “ours,” though perhaps it was a stretch at the time. After all, “we were only seventeen . . .” What did we know of love and life? We weren’t even dating. Yet.
Hubby’s band was playing a gig for friends in his grandparents’ backyard. And since I was part of this rather unusually large network of friends spanning two states, my best friend and I were invited, though my invitation came straight from the bass player himself. I had an inkling that he liked me. And I was surprised that I was falling for him, too. We were already good friends. He was a gentleman and he made me laugh. He also played the guitar. Just how well I didn’t know until that day.
I must have told him that I could kind-of, sort-of sing, because I remember him asking me to sing something that day. Any old thing would do. I remember wondering if he was joking, or just trying to be nice. He did have a reputation for being a nice guy . . .
However, on the day of the gig I came down with a bad sore throat and a fever. Singing seemed out of the question. But nothing was stopping me from going to hear the band play on that warm summer day – August 2, 2002.
There were a lot of firsts that day. It was the first time I heard them play. It was the first time I became something of a band’s fangirl. And it was the first time I knew without a doubt that the bass player had a crush on me.
“I’m sick,” I told him when the band took a break. “I can’t sing.”
“You’ve got to try,” he said. “After I told everyone how good you were and everything!”
“But you’ve never heard me sing.”
“I don’t need to. I already know you’re good.”
Then his cousin chimed in. “Come on, Colleen. I’ve heard you sing even when you were just goofing off and you were still good,” she said.
One reluctant agreement later, I was in the living room of his grandparents house practicing to an audience of one, Hubby’s 14-year-old friend.
“Man,” he exclaimed suddenly after the first verse, “that’s how you sing when you’re sick? You must be really good when you’re healthy!”
“Not really,” I told him modestly. Anything else seemed a lie.
Nevertheless, I told my friend the bass player that I was ready.
Since they had already been videotaping his band perform, he grabbed the video camera and stationed himself stage left as I nervously stepped into the hazy evening sunset glow that served as a spotlight.
I closed my eyes as friends’ and strangers’ voices fell to a hush.
Never knew I could feel like this . . .
When I close my eyes now, I open the ones that remember that moment like a snapshot in time.
The first thing I see is the bass player holding a video camera cocked to one side, as he stares at me transfixed.
Now it makes me laugh, seeing him like this – the 17-year-old boy with a crush on me. But back then, I was too stunned to do anything but close my eyes and try to not to look so obvious as I trembled with the microphone and tried to sing.
There was no rhyme or reason why I chose the song from Moulin Rouge. I just liked it. I spent that whole summer obsessing over that movie, over Ewan McGregor (he can sing!), and that one scene where they dance in a Parisian sky and pay homage to Singin’ in the Rain with the Eiffel Tower. The movie itself was nothing more than a bloated music video that stole songs from 20th century, from Elton John to Nirvana. “Come What May” was an original song written for the film – just as hopelessly romantic and bloated as the film itself.
But I was 17. I practically lived on bloated hopeless romance.
For me, however, the romance was just beginning. It was this tiny, blossoming little thing out of a friendship with a bass player. Three days after the backyard gig, we were dating.
Fast forward five years and I was on a mission to find our wedding song.
Why not this one? After all, in those five years we had – for all intents and purposes – stuck together “come what may” in spite of it all. High school, college, disapproving friends who thought we were too young, not too mention the distance between us – we overcame it all. We even overcame ourselves and our own youthful selfishness and hot tempers. We had broken up more times than I can remember. But we could never stay apart. We were each others’ best friends. Naturally, the next step was to get married. We felt like seasoned pros at hardships in our relationship. Bring on the storm clouds and the colliding stars.
And so we danced to “Come What May” on our wedding day.
We really were tempting fate, it seemed. Laughing in the face of it. Double-daring life to really put the screws to us. Invincible wedded bliss.
Nearly seven years have passed since I married the bass player.
Storm clouds gathered like the jobs we had and lost, the apartments we lived in, the house we bought. Seasons changed and we changed with them, and somehow along the way I forgot all about our wedding song. With each situation and challenge, I evolved into someone who probably wouldn’t even like that movie anyway.
Then I found myself sitting on the toilet in the bathroom, sobbing as I held the hand of the bass player, who was sitting in a dry bathtub because I could not be alone for a moment – not even to go to the bathroom – because just a few days ago our baby boy had died and I was terrified to be alone for any stretch of time.
Those bygone days of backyard gigs and pool parties and bloated hopeless romance were blown away, leaving barely a memory of them here in this wasteland. I stopped singing, and he stopped playing the guitar. Even our wedding day seemed but a hazy dream. Were we ever really that happy? How was it possible to experience such joy, when the only things we felt were excruciating, unimaginable pain and the cry for numbness that followed?
The days came and went like the tide. They would have come regardless, stretching out the time between our wedding day and the present day. The days between are what make a marriage. Not the wedding day. Not the song, either.
But now, the bloated, pretentious song seems ironic when I see the bass player hold our newborn son in his arms in the middle of the night, his eyes betraying both lack of sleep and the joy we thought would never be ours to experience again.
Suddenly the world seems such a perfect place . . .
My friend’s words are recent, but they seem to echo from the past.
“I watched Moulin Rouge tonight, and I got to thinking about your wedding song and how fitting it turned out to be. You guys have loved each other through thick & thin, come what may. I admire you two.”
I guess I chose the right song after all.
More importantly, I chose the right person – that boyish bass player who became my best friend and then husband and undoubtedly the man I can’t wait to spend the rest of my life with, no matter what life has in store for us. No matter what happens next. Every day, I love him more and more. I love him until the end of time.
Come what may.