Dammit, Toby Keith

I’d like to thank Outkast, Soul II Soul, Ja, Biggie, and Arrested Development for yesterday’s soundtrack. And for today’s sore knees and hips. Apparently dancing around my office all day is quite a workout. 90s Hip Hop for the win on a tired Monday!

I decided to switch things up and listen to country today. Big mistake! Five minutes into my half hour drive, this comes on…

“I’m just trying to be a father
Raise a daughter and a son
Be a lover to their mother
Everything to everyone
Up and at ’em bright and early
I’m all business in my suit
Yeah, I’m dressed up for success
From my head down to my boots”

Tears were dripping off my chin before Toby got through the words “lover to their mother”. Damn good lyrics.

You see… on this day, twenty-nine years ago, two twenty-two year old kids went to the courthouse in Baton Rouge and got a marriage license. This day was never Valentine’s Day for us. It was “Marriage License Day”.

Nine years later, in 2003, the boy I married was in Iraq when Toby Keith released American Soldier. I bought the CD the day it was released, packed up our three kids and our dog in his F-250, and drove from Columbus, Georgia to Denver, CO to spend Thanksgiving with the family I had married into. By the end of that drive the kids and I knew every lyric (we changed it to “a daughter and two sons”) and were belting it out. We were so proud of our American soldier.

And then came this morning…

No marriage license. No valentine. I am okay, but I am sad. It didn’t have to be this way. Or maybe it did. UFOs, wars, pandemics, governments and economies collapsing, AI, deep fakes, blackmail and blackmail inflation, deaths and divorces… nothing makes sense anymore. Or maybe it all makes sense. I certainly don’t have it all figured out beyond being grateful for the people and experiences that fill my days. My life is rich with both. Who knows if I could have accomplished the things I’ve accomplished in the last few years, or found the tribe of stellar humans I’m surrounded by if I was still expending every ounce of my emotional, mental, and spiritual energy fighting for my marriage… Great purpose and lots of healing aside, today is still a day when grief revisited. I am certain that four days from now, on what would have been our 29th anniversary, it will again stop by long enough for a cup of coffee or a cocktail, memories both sweet and bittersweet, and to shed a few tears.

I recently sent a diatribe of a text to someone stating that I do not have time or energy for a relationship and that I do not know if I ever want to be married again. The next day I deleted it on my end. As I typed those words I was trying to convince myself that they were my truth. The next day I realized that they weren’t. I actually loved fighting for my marriage. I just didn’t like fighting.

So yeah… today is a day when I am acutely aware that I am single. I am extremely proud of the work I’ve done to stand on my own two feet. Stepping into the skin of who God says I am and walking forward in the things He made me for has been an incredible adventure. Kaci is kind of awesome. And who knows? Maybe some day someone equally awesome will come along to be my Valentine. Meanwhile…

Dammit, Toby Keith. You made me cry.

Until grief decides to pop in again, a little wisdom from Soul II Soul…

Back to life, back to reality
Back to life, back to reality
Back to life, back to reality
Back to the here and now, yeah

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