Learn more about WriteOut, a writing camp for teens founded by Ally that starts this summer in Cedar City, UT.

a request and a dedication

Recently, my husband and I celebrated our 10th anniversary. So, in honor of that momentous occasion (which we celebrated with takeout from The Bombay House after the three kids were in bed–so romantic!),and also Valentine’s Day, I thought I’d re-post this post I wrote for him. It was originally published at the Segullah Blog.

Back when I was an incurable daydreaming romantic, I wanted a lot of things out of love. Companionship, a soulmate, all of that. I also wanted a song.

You know: the song that you and your significant other choose and refer to forever after as “our song.” My grandmother and grandfather had selected the very lovely “Till the End of Time” as their song, and she once gave him a beautiful inlaid music box that played the melody as a gift. I stood there watching them listen to the music and vowed that someday that would be me.

I wanted something else, too: a book dedication. I swooned over Wallace Stegner’s to his wife Mary in the book Mormon Country: “For Mary, as all of them are.” To inspire that kind of love, to contribute that kind of support, to serve as that kind of muse: heavenly. (I don’t think it hurt that the picture of Wallace on the back of the book was very handsome and brooding.)

When my husband and I started dating, the 90s bubblegum pop era was in full swing. Every time you turned on the radio or went to a dance, that was all you heard. Neither of us were fans. My husband grew up in Seattle during the grunge era, and therefore was a fan of Nirvana and Pearl Jam. I grew up in Southern Utah in the we-don’t-have-a-major-radio-station-that-doesn’t-play-country-music so-you-like-what-your-parents-like era, and therefore was a fan of Bruce Springsteen.

Whenever I would request my husband’s opinion about what should be our song, he would tease me by telling me that he thought it was “I Want it That Way” by the Backstreet Boys. That song was everywhere. And he knew it drove me crazy, because it makes absolutely no sense at all (“You are my fire/my one desire/Believe when I say/I want it that way”). What?

I tried in vain to get him to go with “It’s A Wonderful World” by Louis Armstrong, but he didn’t think that had enough to do with love. I tried to tell him that “The Promise” by Tracy Chapman would be a good one, since I’d played that song and thought of him while he was living for two years in Brazil. “But I didn’t know that until I came home and you told me so,” he pointed out. Somehow, we ended up without a song.

At least, I thought, he might still dedicate a book to me. My beloved was an English major. He was very good at writing sonnets. Perhaps a book of poetry would bear an inscription to me. But then, before the ink was dry on our marriage license, he changed his major to economics.

I was 0 for 2 in the romantic dreams realization category. Of course, you know and I know that this doesn’t actually matter. Because the romance isn’t just about “our song” but about the songs you sing to your children and to each other in the dark of the night. It’s not about a dedication on the page of a book but about the dedication you show to one another as people, spouses, human beings who have committed to lift one another up.

One of my clearest memories of time spent with my husband is the time we ran 72 laps around the BYU track. We had been married for about two years and we were training for a marathon together. We needed to run 18 miles that day in order to be prepared for the race. We both had work, he had school, I had coaching, one thing led to another, and soon it was 9:00 p.m. and dark, and we still had not gone on our long run.

The only safe place to go was the track. We took our Gatorade and our watches and we jogged around the first lap. “One,” we said in unison as we crossed the line, and we started to laugh. “This is going to be a long night,” we agreed. Seventy-one laps to go.

We ran as the sky got darker and the stars all came out. We ran while they locked the gates. We ran as couples sneaked into the track and kissed in the bleachers. A couple brought a radio to the darkened infield and started to dance, and when we ran past, they screamed in surprise.

We were still running when they finished dancing.

Things may not always turn out as you picture them in those halcyon days of infatuation and courtship. They may turn out differently. Less perfect. Better.

I don’t have a book dedicated to me, but the dedication of a book I wrote reads like this:

For my husband
who has been my running mate in everything
from marathons to parenting,
and who has taught me that winning isn’t everything–
but that having a good companion is.

And every time we hear a snippet of “I Want It That Way” in the grocery store or on the radio, I start to laugh, because I know what is coming. “That’s our song,” he says, and I have to admit that it is.

+ comments (17)
  • HeatherSmith
    February 9, 2010

    We could never choose a song. While we were dating we drove from SLC to Provo often. Sheryl Crow’s “My Favorite Mistake” came on and I joked that it coud be our “song.” It has stuck with us for the past 11 years and we always smile when we hear it……we know that loving each other has never been a mistake.

    Your dedication is beautiful.

    Hint: Check his dissertation dedication……?

  • becca
    February 9, 2010

    That is so excellent. I love the story and I love the way you tell it. Happy romancing.

  • Julie D.
    February 9, 2010

    *sigh* You just made my heart happy. I completely agree that the strength of the companionship is more fulfilling and uplifting than the thrill of the romance. Thanks for sharing this!

  • Aubrey(AKAStacey)
    February 9, 2010

    Love that you hate that song, but it is your song. ha ha. I think one of the big problems with marriage and divorce rates in our world today is the expectations we have…and the unwillingness we have to let go of them.

    In the end, life is NOT a fairy tale. You do not magically live happily ever after with unending romance — or at least what we think romance is. It isn’t reality.

    Enduring commitment, understanding and love is priceless. I’m glad you found it and can laugh about it. 😉

  • Carolyn V
    February 9, 2010

    How cute! What a great couple you two make. =)

  • Shari
    February 9, 2010

    That was a very sweet dedication. I couldn’t get my husband to pick a song either and it’s been nineteen years. I guess I finally decided that it just didn’t matter and all of the things you mentioned in your blog about dedication to each other, companionship and commitment are.

  • Samantha
    February 9, 2010

    I like your dedication, too. Makes me want to find “our song.” Or dedicate a book to the spouseman….

  • JoanFairbank
    February 9, 2010

    That’s beautiful Ally. Happy Anniversary and thanks for sharing.

  • CharlotteCondie
    February 9, 2010

    You’re so funny, Ally!

  • Julie Dixon
    February 9, 2010

    Very cute, Ally. It’s strange how we think we know what we want, but when things turn out different we’re actually happier. It is too bad “The Promise” didn’t work out though-I like that one:)

  • Sandy Shin
    February 10, 2010

    Happy Anniversary!

    Thank you for sharing such a beautiful tale with us. :>

  • Jake
    February 11, 2010

    Another enjoyable post to read. You really are quite talented in that area, you should be an author.

    Melissa and I don’t have a song, but to make up for it my daughter and I have 3 already and she’s only 4.

  • shelli johannes wells
    February 12, 2010

    so sweet!

  • Natalie Hatch
    February 13, 2010

    Hubby sang Melt With You by Modern English to me on a garden bench before we married, I’d loved it from the 80s movie Valley Girl. So that’s our song. We run most mornings together, going to do a marathon later in the year hopefully, glad to know other couples can run together even with littlies about.

  • ally
    February 13, 2010

    Heather–I am loving that “My Favorite Mistake” is your song. And I am in the dedication of the dissertation. I should probably give him credit for that, shouldn’t I?

    Becca, you too!

    Julie and Stacey, I’m glad you agree. 🙂

    And Carolyn, thanks! You are a sweetheart.

    Shari, it’s nice to know that someone else couldn’t really pick a song either. And clearly it’s a good sign, right? I mean, look at you guys! Nineteen years and still going strong! Congrats!

    Samantha, you can do it! Write that book! (I am also really enjoying the word “spouseman” for some reason.)

    Charlotte and Julie, thanks! And Julie, I know. Why wouldn’t he go with The Promise???

    Sandy, you are welcome, and thank YOU for thinking it was beautiful instead of sappy or embarrassing. 😉

    Jake, I think the fact that you and your daughter have songs might be the cutest thing I’ve ever heard.

    Shelli, thank you!

    Natalie, I wish we ran together! This is a story from years ago. How do you two manage it with little kids? We have not yet figured out how to make that work.

  • ally
    February 13, 2010

    Joanie! You are welcome. And aren’t you going to tell me what you guys chose as your song? 😉

  • Luis Howard
    July 11, 2010

    when i hear about the songs of Backstreet Boys, i remember good old college days:*’

Leave a Reply

Required fields are marked *