and holding onto that honest heart with every bit of life you have

The story of how I fell in love with the girl I’m going to marry starts before I even knew her, during a walk I remember with my mom around Thanksgiving 3 years ago. I had just had my heart smashed into roughly 3451452 pieces, and she suggested we go for a walk and have a talk. I myself don’t remember what was said- I’ve lost a lot of memories from that time, as you tend to do when you’re living in the dark- but my mom does, as it’s been something that’s hung in her brain since. ‘You’ll find someone who loves you for who you are, Adam,’ she said. ‘No, I won’t,’ I replied.

There are a lot of moments between that conversation and when I met her that I remember, markers along the way that let me know I was making progress after all the false starts, missteps and learning that comes with putting your life back together, but the one that always sticks out is this: when I came back from Timber Music Festival that summer 2+ years ago I remember going to my counselor and saying to him ‘I think I’m ready to at least consider dating. I’m not getting some match.com profile or anything, but I’m not opposed to meeting someone, either.’ I didn’t know if I was REALLY ready or not, but I knew for the first time in a long time I was ready to at least give it a real whirl.

I met the woman who I will be marrying about a week after saying that. I mean, I didn’t intend to meet my future wife at a Fuel/Friends house show 1000 miles away that myself and some German friends from the internet decided to go to at the last minute, but hey, life is crazy sometimes.

I had been emailing with a girl named Sheila for a little while before the show. All I knew about her was that she was very cute, very kind, liked very good music and lived in Colorado. When we decided to go to the house show I started working overtime to get this cute, kind girl there, just to meet, just to see if there was anything, just for fun. Related: I had no idea what I was doing. At all.

I don’t remember the day itself all that well, but Sheila reminded me recently that there were storms that day, storms that prompted her to email me and see if I would be going to the next show on Tyler Lyle’s little tour through Colorado, a show that would be much closer to her and not involve her driving through said terrible storms. I wasn’t, because me and the Germans had decided last minute to do this whole thing and I had a plane ticket in hand for the next day, and so she and a friend drove through all the terrible weather so Sheila could meet a boy from the internet at a show 3 hours from where she lived.

I remember Sheila walking in, because of course I do. She was 45 or so minutes late, about 3/4 of the way through Tyler Lyle’s set, and in she strode, her cute short hair and a long black dress with a flower printed on it and a jean jacket on, eventually making her way to the back with her friend for the rest of the set. As soon as Tyler finished I made a beeline over to her, obviously very excited to meet this girl from the internet. And then… I side-hugged her, you guys. Like, WHAT?! WHAT ARE YOU DOING, ADAM, YOU DOPE? GIRLS DON’T WANT YOUR DUMBASS SIDE-HUGS.

I redeemed myself, I think (guys, you know by now I had no idea what I was doing), by getting Tyler Lyle to play her favorite song of his (‘Winter Is For Kierkegaard’) while we all sat around Heather’s living room. I IMMEDIATELY followed that suave move by requesting he play what was essentially a song that soundtracked my divorce, ‘When I Say That I Love You…’ How did I put out the fire that I had lit in the dumpster, you ask? Well, I started a verrrry intense conversation with her about what fast food fries were the best.

You’re going to find this hard to believe, but she emailed me the next morning to tell me what a great time she had, and how the next time I was in Colorado we had a ‘beer reservation.’ I was ‘in,’ somehow, and so we spent the next few weeks plotting out our next move via about 1.5 million text, emails and phone calls.

We aren’t risk-takers or impulsive people, buuuuuuuut our first actual date involved me driving 7 hours from Chicago to Minneapolis and her escaping a 100 Year Flood that was happening in the foothills of Boulder, all so we could see Caroline Smith play a few songs in a living room. We showed up to that shindig very late and soaked from the monsoon happening outside, but Sheila made sure we got our money’s worth by speaking in her Very In Control Of The Room Voice when Caroline was looking for a request for the last song of the night and getting her to play ‘Eagle’s Nest.’

We worked hard at our relationship, talking openly and honestly about what we wanted, what we needed, what we never wanted, what scared us, what we had been through and what we thought love was and wasn’t. I knew pretty quickly that she was my perfect match, a compassionate, honest, open communicator with a big heart, a quick wit, a ridiculous dog, an infectious laugh and so many things I didn’t know I was even looking for but couldn’t get enough of. I was deliberate and slow with giving my heart over, the way you are after you’ve been hurt deeply, and she was patient and understanding while also being just as deliberate with her feelings. We balanced each other while also knowing there was only one outcome we could ever envision, even from the early days, and that was that we’d be together forever. We knew this was love, and no matter how much I tried to take it slow, it overwhelmed me from those early days almost every day.

I moved out here to Denver last year, to be with her and give this all a real chance (and because I had a severance that bought me some time on the whole ‘needing a job’ front). We continued to have conversations about our love, about our future, about what we wanted and who we were as a couple. We fell more in love and we developed more dumb jokes and were there for the each other during the hard times. We made a life and found ourselves surrounded by good people at every turn, with friends who supported us and wanted us to succeed. The more we built this life, the more I knew this was the life I wanted forever.

So, a couple weeks ago I traveled home to celebrate my niece and nephew’s birthday. I got home a little early and so I took a trip to a jeweler, searching up and down for a ring that would make the woman I love happy. I saw a lot of rings (sidenote: that ‘Hearts On Fire Collection’ should have its name changed to ‘Money & Taste On Fire Collection) and then I saw the ring, the one I knew was her through and through. So I bought it.

I had a ring, and after the 1000 or so mile trip back to Colorado from Iowa, I had an idea of how I wanted to propose, I just wasn’t sure the pieces would fall into place to make it a reality. They did at the last minute, thanks to my mom and dad emailing and texting while I drove, our friend Courtney being the chauffeur for the evening, and my buddy Andrew coming through with a guitar at the last minute.

Tyler Lyle ended up in our living room, drinking a beer and talking with us all before picking up that borrowed guitar and starting to play a new song he had written. He stopped after a verse, adjusted the guitar and said ‘Nah, I think I’m supposed to play something else,’ before launching into ‘Winter Is For Kierkegaard,’ that song Sheila loves so much and that had been there since the first night. He stopped about halfway through, looking at us with a huge grin and saying ‘Don’t you have a question to ask?’ before I got down on one knee and asked Sheila if she would like to get married. After all the hugs and tears and happiness and clapping and cartwheels and spraying champagne everywhere (I assume the last few things happened- it was a blur of joy, so I’m not 100%), Tyler sat down with his guitar again and asked if we had any requests. I said one song, and then my new fiancé trumped me by requesting he play an absolutely perfect love song written for his wife after they got married.

There she was again with the perfect request at the drop of a dime. I can’t wait for that to be a recurring thing for the rest of my life.

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19 Responses to and holding onto that honest heart with every bit of life you have

  1. Kim says:

    This brought tears of joy to my eyes. I know I already said it but congratulations. I couldn’t be happier for you.

  2. randy says:

    I have followed your site for about 4 years, and its been one of the sites that I make sure to check daily. Having said that, this is the first article I have felt the need to comment on, because it brings me utter happiness. I have enjoyed listening to your journey though your music suggestions and explanations. So this message is a congratulations and a thank you wrapped in one. I wish you the best for I will likely never post again, but will continue to enjoy. As a added bonus I dedicate this song to you and your future wife.

  3. Anton says:

    wow, the power of music in all situations is evident. Couldn’t have done the proposal better Adam, all the best for the wedding and a long future filled with more music.

  4. Adrian says:

    Teared up a little during this. Well written. Congrats again!

  5. All I could think as I finished reading this piece was…THIS. This is why we are fans of music – because it isn’t just strings of guitar chords and words paired together. Music is the thing that brings us together across hundreds (or thousands) of miles, soundtracks the defining moments in our lives and makes everything that much richer.

    Congratulations to you both, Adam! And thank you for sharing this story – it is beautiful.

  6. Emily says:

    I’ve been a silent follower, but your site has brought me through many a sad night during your journey which has been almost to a ‘T’ my journey as well these last few years. Thank you for having the courage to share your story and share the music that moves you. I’ve also found the love I was supposed to find after the darkness and all I can say is that I wish you two a lifetime of love and luck! Congrats!

  7. Yessssssss! Cheering for you two. I hope it’s not too presumptuous of me to post a few of my favorite love songs in celebration.



    Can’t wait to watch your playlist unfold.

  8. raphael says:

    I don’t think I have ever been more happy for someone I have never met in my life – congratulations and all the best for your future, Adam.

  9. Lisa says:

    I have to add one more “hurrah!” to the pile. I, too, have been following your site for several years, feeling almost as though our spirits knew each other as you shared your journey and the music that accompanied you. Your path so often mirrored my own (with a terrible break-up; then slowly finding that my heart will continue to beat; then finding a new relationship and more happiness than I could have previously imagined…) And the music you shared came along with me like a steadfast companion on this journey. I can’t explain how much comfort that has provided.
    And now, I am SOO happy for you!! And for me. And for the incredible hope that this common path (which seems to be shared by many) shows – how the feeling of despair can so often come around to a deep happiness that may not have even been possible without the despair.

    All the best to you and your new fiancée! May your joy only grow from here!

    (And wow! You got Tyler Lyle to set the stage for popping the question? Amazingly nice touch!)

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