“It’s no good pretending that any relationship has a future if your record collections disagree violently or if your favorite films wouldn’t even speak to each other if they met at a party.”
― Nick Hornby
From the first interaction I ever had with JJ Feinauer almost 4 years ago, I somehow just knew I would date him. I wouldn’t really say it was love at first sight, but I was attracted to his gangly essence and my intuition told me that if I played my cards right…we might just click.
And click, we did.
For anyone who didn’t know JJ when he was more…gangly, the above photos should suffice. Anyone who can’t see the resemblance between JJ and Michael Cera in the picture on the left should probably look a little harder, or go watch some Arrested Development to jog your memory. My gangly Michael Cera has blossomed into a full grown burly, bearded mountain man (see below), so I just wanted to add the old gangly photos to provide an image of the JJ I first met my sophomore year of college.
I remember before we were actually dating yet, hanging out with JJ and his room mates at their apartment one night. I got a text from a friend telling me he wouldn’t be able to drive me to my allergy doctor appointment the next day…
(Yes, I am that girl. The one with nasal spray and an epi-pen in her purse. The one who gets monthly allergy shots. And last but not least, I am that girl who is not allowed to drive herself home from the appointments because she has a bad track record of reacting poorly to the shots and accidentally forgetting how to breathe on occasion.)
JJ volunteered to skip his early class to drive me to my appointment the next morning and I casually accepted his offer while suppressing a strange mixture of excitement that we would spend most of the morning together and sheepishness… for being “that girl.”
It was a 30 minute drive to my appointment and I remember we talked about music most of the way there. We talked about all the angsty punk rock we listened to in high school, the bands we’d seen live, the concerts on our bucket lists, our favorite albums, our guilty pleasure albums, and albums that reminded us of our childhoods. I will never forget riding shot gun in his 1997 Subaru Legacy and scrolling through his 2005 ipod classic thinking to myself, “This guy is a keeper.”
Later we made each other mixed CD’s of songs that reminded us of our childhood/teenage years. My mix for him included The Steve Miller band, George Harrison, Paul Simon and a trove of other songs I’d discovered while scouring my dad’s CD collection when I was a kid. We overlapped in some places, but introduced each other to new things as well. I still have those mixed CD’s packed away somewhere in a box in Virginia. I don’t remember every song on that first mix he made me, but I do remember “Neighborhood #1 (tunnels)” by Arcade Fire.
JJ and I have many songs that we claim to be ours. Some of which include:
- “Swallowed in the Sea” by Coldplay
- “Earth Angel” covered by Death Cab for Cutie
- “I Got You” by Jack Johnson
- “Can I stay” by Ray Lamontagne
- “Leonard” by Sharon Van Etten
- “Stay Young, Go Dancing” by Death Cab for Cutie
While each of these songs came to be “ours” at different stages in our relationship, “Neighborhood #1 (tunnels)” is a song that always instantly takes me back to a very specific time period of our friendship: the very beginning. Everything was new and exciting and swelling with possibilites. I hear that song and suddenly it’s 1:00 am and I’m leaning against his 97 Subaru on Magnolia Avenue. Fall semester 2010. Not the slightest bit worried about my unfinished biology homework waiting for me at home because I’m too busy falling in love with a gangly boy named JJ on Magnolia Avenue.
Fast forward approximately 3 1/2 years and that ol’ Subaru is going the way of all the earth in a junk yard. We’re driving through the Rocky Mountains in our Hyundai Elantra listening to “Neighborhood #1 (tunnels)” with my bare toes on the dash on our way to see Arcade Fire on their Reflektor tour live in Denver!
We are thousands of miles from Virginia. Married. We have college degrees, full time jobs, debt, faith, and a daughter in heaven. We’ve crossed a line through 9 concerts on our joint bucket list so far and are ascending to the mile high city to cross off number 10.
I think back to that first time I perused through his playlists and smile at how things have turned out in spite of all the unpredictable hurdles we’ve somehow cleared. We have been through more in the last 6 months than I thought was emotionally possible in a lifetime, but we are still here. And we’re still in love, so that should count for something.
Another Arcade Fire song with a similar grip on my memory is “Wake up.” I remember listening to this song at another point of the road trip and all the memories came back once again. Walking on the flood wall hand in hand at night. Getting lost in Roanoke. Sneakily ordering greasy Dominos after all the organic children we were babysitting fell asleep. This song elicited pure happiness, but then a lyric stood out to me that gave me chills.
“Our bodies get bigger, but our hearts get torn up.”
And in less than an instant, my memory shifts gears and I’m reminded of a small body I once held whose heart was torn up in the worst way. It’s strange how the words you’ve heard a thousand times suddenly resonate in a whole new terrifying way as you listen to them through the filter of your own life experiences. This is probably why music is so powerful- because our lives are constantly shape shifting to try and keep up with our ever changing paradigms. Sometimes it feels impossible to take a step without the world shifting underneath your feet. It’s crazy how the weight of a particular song or single lyric can change dramatically over the course of 6 months, a day, or even a moment.
The concert was nothing short of fabulous and our seats were awesome. We were so grateful for the opportunity to take a break and just get out of town for a while. We ate at the lovely Casa Bonita, visited the Denver LDS temple, and wandered aimlessly through downtown Denver for the better part of an afternoon. On the way back home, we took a detour through Moab and saw the arches. All in all it was a fabulous trip.
Today just so happens to be our 3 year wedding anniversary and I could not be more excited for my mountain man to come home from work so we can go out on the town for a little anniversary sushi!
I click with JJ in so many more ways than music, but I feel pretty lucky that our tastes align most of the time. (No matter how far backwards I bend in an earnest attempt to appreciate Radiohead or Kanye West on his level, at some point I have to admit that it just might not be possible.)
Thom Yorke aside, I am so thankful for the 3+ years I’ve had shootin the breeze with my main squeeze. He still makes me mixed tapes that I adore. We still get lost on a fairly regular basis. And in the midst of healing from some pretty deep wounds, we still find time to have mile high adventures. Three cheers to three years and an ample supply of tomorrows to come.
I love you, J.
And the beat goes on.