How was I going to find love if I kept hanging out with my ex?

The mobile phone rang: my ex-spouse. Nine years immediately after our divorce, we lived near each and every other in Santa Monica and we had been however cordial. If I went out of city, he would feed and treatment for our 18-yr-old diabetic cat. We had been in a band collectively in university and nonetheless played music each individual the moment in a even though, and now Danny told me he experienced an plan: He was putting with each other a Tom Petty and the Heartbreakers tribute band. He was heading to be Tom.

It was a tall get. It would call for leadership and time I was not certain he experienced — not to mention fantastic musicians. But a couple weeks later on, he referred to as once more. He’d lined up a direct guitarist, a bass participant and a drummer. “You observed your Mike, Howie and Stan?” I asked, ticking off the names of the genuine band associates. Then it dawned on me: He needed a keyboard participant. “Who is going to be Benmont?”

“You are,” Danny said.

Danny and I fulfilled in Austin in the ’80s at the College of Texas. I commonly picked a individual in those gargantuan lecture halls to check out each individual time class satisfied to continue to keep me entertained — a woman since I liked her design, a male due to the fact I imagined he was lovable. Danny was the 1 I observed in an advertising and marketing course. When I overheard that he played in a band, he received way cuter.

I’ve constantly been obsessed with new music. In accordance to household lore, I utilised to wake up singing in my crib. I’d performed piano and sung in choirs my full life. Soon after I skipped that marketing course to see the Grateful Dead, I requested the lovable musician if I could borrow his notes to catch up, and we finished up falling for each individual other — really hard. We married, and relocated to L.A.

Songs was our shared passion. Scarcely a 7 days went by that we weren’t at a concert — singing along with the standing-area-only group to Lucinda Williams at the Troubadour or the Smithereens at the Roxy. But no band spoke to us like Tom Petty and the Heartbreakers. To us, it was the great band: awesome frontman brilliant songwriting impeccable lead guitarist distinguished piano pieces and great harmonies. At any time they ended up carrying out in L.A., we ended up proper there.

Our personal marriage, even so, wasn’t eliciting the identical joy. About a year in, I bear in mind observing a declaring someplace: “Happiness is being married to your finest pal.” That was not what I felt. Right after Danny’s mother died, he shed his way and misplaced me with it. I considered conversation was essential and probably pushed him even further away striving to get him to communicate about it. But he claimed he did not know what he wanted. I can nevertheless listen to my dad expressing in his Oklahoma drawl: “Honey, really do not beat a useless horse,” so I divorced him. I was devastated. Conveying our falling apart to close friends, I said it felt like Danny showed up for the wedding but not for the relationship. I bear in mind sobbing, inquiring him, “Who am I going to go to Tom Petty concerts with?” He was sobbing also.

Life moved on. I worked at town publications in work that I beloved, I observed are living audio each and every 7 days, and I lived close to the seaside in a rented cottage surrounded by 50-year-old rose bushes. Not for a deficiency of hoping, on the other hand, I by no means fell in appreciate.

When Danny identified as me about the tribute band, which he named Petty Theft, I was nervous to grow to be the woman knockoff of the Heartbreakers’ keyboardist, Benmont Tench. Tench’s unique piano design is a defining aspect of the Heartbreakers’ sound. But I hunkered down and acquired the songs, and before long the band was enjoying all above Southern California — pounding out “Listen to Her Heart” at a avenue fair in Manhattan Seashore 1 weekend, “Free Fallin’” at a on line casino in the desert the upcoming.

How a lot fun is it to enjoy tracks you adore more than and over once more? A whole lot. Danny and I were bandmates and we were friendly, but it was all about the tunes.

And then, Danny commenced to grow into himself. He got promoted at get the job done. He give up consuming. He stop smoking. He little by little morphed into a happier model of himself. Over time, he bought lovable once again. And he was displaying up. Like at my father’s funeral in Houston or when I had foot operation. If Danny experienced household in town, I was invited to the supper out. If I experienced an further ticket to a live performance and could not come across a person to go, I realized Danny would. I recognized that when he was more than, he started to stay a tiny for a longer time. He was who I identified as when something good took place. I was who he called when anything poor took place. We had been both of those one once again and fell into an nearly day by day groove of interaction.

I could notify what I was starting off to sense. But what about him?

Not as soon as in all those yrs did I get the vibe that he wanted to reconcile. Not at the time.

I also understood some thing else: I was never ever heading to meet somebody new if I spent so significantly of my no cost time with my ex. Danny was dropping me off immediately after 1 of people spouse and children meals when I informed him I desired to converse.

“I am joyful when you stroll into the space,” I commenced. His lessen lip jutted out, but I did not know what that intended. “But we can’t go on like this — we both have to stop hanging out, or we have to transfer this forward.” I was certain that this was a pivotal minute when we were being going to go our independent methods once more, and I did not want that. Tears had been brimming and were being ready to move. Thankfully, I didn’t have to wait lengthy for him to reply: “I’d like to shift this forward.” I was shocked. Someway, I managed to say, “Well, do not you feel you should to kiss me then?” And he did.

A few decades later, in 2017, on the anniversary date of our 1st marriage we stood on a beach front in Santa Barbara. By means of laughter and tears, we delivered our vows. All over again.

We have attempted in excess of the yrs to guess just how several moments we have found Tom Petty and the Heartbreakers live — it has to be near to 50. We observed them 4 occasions the 12 months we re-wed, and about a week following a clearly show at the Hollywood Bowl we heard Petty had collapsed at his residence in Malibu. Our co-staff at our respective careers completely recognized when we stated we had to go household. There, Danny and I held on to every single other, not knowing what else to do. Later on that day, Tom Petty was absent.

It is rather surreal to cry that hard about the loss of life of a particular person you never actually really know personally.

Petty Theft kept on, until a virus shut down the entire world. Then Danny and I commenced recording a everyday video clip of a beloved Heartbreakers tune, submitting these “Quarantunes” on social media. The video clips truly seemed to assistance our mates much too. Folks claimed they seemed forward to them. In addition to being the soundtrack of our lives, these songs assisted us find every other once more.

It did not shock any one when we posted our version of “The Waiting around.” It is the toughest aspect.

The creator is a print creation director and musician who lives in Santa Monica. Petty Theft just experienced its very first band follow in more than a yr, and looks forward to playing once more throughout SoCal.

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