Tuesday, March 5, 2013

I'm Glad My Husband Kept His Albums

by Amy Ruhlin

I met my husband in the early 1980s while we were in college. He was a DJ at the campus radio station and sometimes I would visit him during his shows. I can remember just how he looked sitting at the microphone flanked by two turntables and surrounded by four walls of albums. He had a contented smile and long sideburns and there was always a cold can of coke on the desk and a smoldering Marlboro Light in the ashtray. He'd queue up songs and speak to his listeners with knowledge and passion about the music and the musicians. He was a boy of twenty and he was clearly in his element.
Sometimes he would play songs just for me. I'd sit in my dorm room dressed in my flowing skirts and leather boots and wait for them, and when they played, I'd swoon. We were living in southern Louisiana where the culture was thick, the nights were steamy and music was everywhere. It was a gritty, dreamy place to fall in love and to consider the possibilities of a life together.
He had his own personal collection of albums. There were 800 of them, each album placed inside the album cover and then protected with a plastic sleeve. He liked to organize them by the name of the band or by the type of music and he'd dust them with a vinyl cleaner called a discwasher. I was the great love of his life but those albums were a close second.
We got married and began our journey together and the albums came with us. In our first apartment, we stored them in wooden crates on the living room floor between large wood grain speakers. But then we moved to a different state and the albums got moved to the basement. We were busy and happy with our careers and our lives and though we still loved music, it didn't take center stage as it once had.
In the years that followed, we had two children and we moved three more times. And during each move, the 800 albums were carefully loaded onto the moving truck. But then they'd get tucked away into the back of a closet while we mostly listened to lullabies and children's television theme songs and storybooks.
As the kids grew, we watched CD's and Mp3's burst onto the scene. And then my husband's albums didn't seem to matter much anymore. I didn't think much about them until I was cleaning out a closet one day.
"Why do you still have all these albums?" I asked him. "Don't you think it's time we get rid of them? They take up too much room in the closet."
"I'll build shelves for them," he said. "There's nothing like the sound of an album. They'll make a comeback one day."
He built sturdy shelves in the closet, making sure they would hold all of that weight. "They look great," I told him. But secretly, I rolled my eyes and thought he was being silly and juvenile and wondered why he couldn't just move on and get rid of the damn things.
The albums have been on the shelves and out of the way for several years. I had almost forgotten about them until I walked into our office last week and saw my husband converting them to CD's. I sat down on the sofa in my yoga pants and fuzzy socks and I watched him as he tenderly slid an album out of its sleeve and placed it on the turntable. I watched him pick up the same discwasher that he had 30 years ago and run it across the smooth vinyl.
And then I watched the worries and concern of a 51-year-old man melt away and in their place was a twenty-year-old boy in his element. My yoga pants felt like a long skirt and my fuzzy socks turned into kick-ass leather boots. I felt full of grit and dreams as I considered the possibilities of the second half of our life together.
"This album sounds great," I heard myself say. The sound has so much...depth. It's so much better than a CD or Mp3."
My husband gave me a contented smile and I swear I smelled a Marlboro Light burning somewhere.
My husband is right. There's nothing like the sound of an album.