Knowing What Matters, Sooner or Later

There’s a particular memory I always associate with the collision of music and romance.

Back in St. Paul I knew a guy who was the singer in a local rock band that played out a lot. He and his bandmates were all various, aggressive shades of cute, scruffy and jaded.

For a short time he dated a friend of mine, and as I recall it didn’t end particularly well. A while after that I ran into him at some show at the Turf Club or Big V’s, the two divey venues on either side of Snelling Avenue between which our crowd alternated evenings, and he told me that he was dating someone new–someone he’d met through work.

“I like her a lot,” he announced, beaming. “And it’s crazy. She doesn’t know anything about music.”

I looked at him, trying to discern why this declaration satisfied him so.

“I mean, she has no idea what bands are cool or trendy or whatever. It’s so awesome. I’ve realized it totally doesn’t matter.”

For him, it was a revelation: as though he’d spent his whole life thinking that taste in music and other such trivialities were of primary importance, when really there were other things–like values, maybe, or sex–that could render people compatible.

I don’t think I ever thought shared taste in music the only thing that mattered–or even mattered that much. But still, I always recall this conversation when I start dating someone and conversation turns to “favorite bands.”

“Oh geez,” I think. “Why should I care if we both like Cat Power? Just because you also love Paul Westerberg–that doesn’t mean we’re meant to be.”

Forgive me: in truth, I do think that because you also love Paul Westerberg, we probably are meant to be. (It’s that line from the David Brooks article I wrote about a while back–we all have an inflated sense of our uniqueness.)

But, while I’m thinking that, I think back to that conversation and I feel a little bit ashamed.

Lately, though, I’ve been thinking back on it in a different sense: in the sense that, often, we don’t really know what matters most until we find it.

It turns out that D and I do have oddly overlapping taste in music: David Brooks may argue otherwise, but our shared affection for a set of fairly obscure ’80s rock bands seems to us a peculiar coincidence. I love this. I love that we make each other mix cd’s that both of us genuinely enjoy listening to. It’s a really nice thing.

Is it everything? Of course not. And it turns out that there are many things about D that (so far) have made things work out so well, that I didn’t expect.

Things like how secure he is in himself. How genuinely supportive he is of my interests. How we equally enjoy being around other people and how good we both are at being independent while being together.

Now, the significance of all these things seems obvious. But had you asked me to list them two months ago, I’m sure I wouldn’t have.

I don’t know that we all have unequivocal needs as far as relationships: things we absolutely require or absolutely couldn’t tolerate. I think it’s more like everything else in life: you accept what you find to the point where any alternative seems unfathomable.

But that doesn’t mean we can’t recognize things we find particularly satisfying, or unsatisfying. Just that, sometimes, we’re a lot better at doing so once we’ve found them.


Filed under Love Life

2 responses to “Knowing What Matters, Sooner or Later

  1. Susie II

    I do love what I’ve read here!

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