It was Nick and my anniversary on Friday (5 years), and we did exactly what we wanted to do. We’ve been in a bit of a rough patch lately, what with the sudden uncertainty of our future brought on by my recent life crisis, so there was a bit of pressure (from my mom and others) to make this into a normative anniversary to show everyone that we’re a-ok. We planned on touring the art galleries open for Old City’s First Friday, then get a fancy schmancy meal at one of the expensive farm-to-table-tapas-type places in that neighborhood.
Instead, a tropical storm rolled in. We ducked into Eulogy, a Belgian beer bar, to nurse a drink (sour beer for me, imperial IPA for him) to wait for the rain to let up. It didn’t. We ran into one gallery highlighting changes in typography and graphic design in area print shops. We looked at the time–our dinner reservation would be ready soon. We looked at each other. And we ran into the rain, bought a bottle of wine, and drove up to our favorite dumpy cheap Indian byob in the one of the ugliest neighborhoods Philly has to offer, the one where you dine by the light of the streetlamp outside. It was a perfect anniversary.
Nick told me he had gotten a gift for me. We weren’t going to exchange gifts, and I pretended to be mad for about seven seconds. I could hardly wait to get home to find out what it was. I’m terrible at surprises, mostly because my brain automatically sees it as a puzzle to be worked out, and as a consequence I typically figure out the surprise long before I actually get it. My surprise bridal shower five years ago was a “surprise” to everyone else only, and everyone wondered how I knew to get so dressed up. I’d even figured out about a month ahead of time–before he knew what he was getting me–that Nick would be giving me the Seinfeld DVD box set for my birthday this year. But here was something that, even as I stared at the coffee table with a blanket draped over my gift, I could not fathom what I would be receiving.
It was a dulcimer. An instrument I have wanted since 2009. Something I thought might be easy enough for me to learn without being discouraged. Something I could play my favorite music on. Nick was even sweet enough to offer not to play it until I told him I was ready for him to try, because Nick, with his natural musicality, has a way of inadvertently discouraging my pluckings and hawings by sounding great the instant he picks an instrument up.
It’s old and from Craigslist. It needs strings and a new tailpiece, but I’m excited anyway. I hope to be able to tell you more about my adventures with mountain music soon.