“Set the Night to Music”

Marc Moss remembers when he discovered that marriage is more complicated than showing up and saying I do.

I am a Missoula transplant. I arrived in the West after fleeing the doldrums of Akron, Ohio. I was a park ranger in Yellowstone National Park, & fell in love with the West. I decided I wanted to stay. I tried Bozeman for a year before moving to Missoula where I eventually found myself on the stage at The Badlander sharing a story at The MissoulaMoth. Since then I have taken the MissoulaMoth and transformed it into Tell Us Something.

This episode of Tell Us Something was recorded in front of a live audience on December 8th, 2015, at The Wilma in Missoula, MT. 8 storytellers shared their story based upon the theme “Illumination/Revelation”.

Today’s podcast comes to us from Marc Moss and is titled “Set the Night to Music”.  Thank you for listening.

Transcript : Set the Night to Music

Tonight’s theme is Illumination Revelation. Coming home from work I turned the corner, a block away from the house, and I could already see the candles, flickering in the windows, and I was concerned initially. Did someone leave candles burning, and the house is on fire? I let myself in through the back door. And I could smell all of the different, vanilla and Christmas spice, and cinnamon blends, and all of the different candles that my wife Michelle loved to buy at one of those big-box stores.

When I was seventeen I started dating Michelle. I didn’t believe anyone would ever love me. She was my first girlfriend. She was a sophomore in college–at a Christian college. I was a good Catholic boy. She was the first person I kissed. We’d go out on dates with her friends, and the hostess would–we could only afford things like the olive garden–and we would go in, and the hostess would say, “Table for four?” And her friends would say, “No, table for 3 with a booster chair.”

When I got married my only responsibility that day was to go and buy a pair of black shoelaces. My black shoes–the shoelaces were brown, because the black ones had torn when I was tying them too tight, because I was nervous at the rehearsal dinner. She said, “All you have to do is show up and say yes.” I showed up, and because it was a nice huge Catholic wedding, there were all of these readings, and one of the people doing the readings was the person that I was in love with.

I didn’t love my wife when I married her. I married her because I thought that the “‘til death do us part” thing would be really easy. I thought that I could live with her for two or three years until she died, because she had been diagnosed with Lupus–which at the time we thought was going to attack all of her organs, and they would turn on themselves and slowly eat her alive from the inside.

We dated for five years before we got married, and it was supposed to be the thing to do. That’s what you did in a Catholic household after you had been dating for so long, and then you get married and have children and you get a job. And I’m thinking about all of these things as I walk through my kitchen, and I can hear our song playing–she picked it not me. Remember Jefferson Airplane and how awesome they were? Well, then what happened to them, Jefferson Starship, and then, Starship–and our song was, Set the Night to Music. Like I said, she picked it, not me. That was on.

I walk through the dining room, it was dark. I walked into the living room, and there were hundreds of candles lit all around on every convenient horizontal surface. It was like a Sarah McLachlan video, or a Police video. She was sitting on the floor. The house was immaculate. She was sitting in her wedding dress, and it was spread all behind her. And all around her wedding dress were many of our wedding gifts. A big crystal clock–that’s heavy and it will leave a dent in the drywall if it’s thrown. Luckily we had plaster walls. We had an old house. All of our wedding photographs were also spread all around her.

And I was remembering a couple weeks before–or a couple of weeks after we had gotten married, one of the gals that I worked with at the grocery store–one of the cashiers–grabbed my wedding ring, and said, “I’m mad at you for this.” We used to go on long drives together. Nothing ever happened because I was a good Catholic boy.

And I’m remembering this, and I’m wondering if she finally realized that all those long drives I was taking weren’t by myself. And she turned to me amidst the illumination of the candles, and she said, “You’re leaving me aren’t you.” And I said, “Yes.”

Thank you.