It’s insane to think that it was 20 years ago around this time. I met my husband. And when I met him there was no way in hell I would have thought that he would end up being the love of my life. I was 23. He was 20.

When I was in college I used to play an open mic at The Cav in Providence. I went every Thursday night, religiously. I was a senior at Bryant, I was writing songs like crazy. Writing songs faster than I wrote papers for school. Then I’d try them out at the open mic and get feedback. I made a few friends too.

There were these guys in a trio called Area 51. We’d hang out and watch the local talent, and they played a few shows there on Thursday nights too. That’s how it worked. There was open mic, and a featured act. I started to flirt with the guitarist. He flirted back. We exchanged numbers and talked on the phone. He went to another college in RI, not far from where I went. He came over, I went over there. We played together, sang together, flirted, but nothing more.

They had a shakeup in the band. Their bass player left, and another bassist joined. I wrote songs for the guitarist, played them at the open mic. His girlfriend scowled at me. The new bassist hung back and watched that drama unfold. He didn’t say much.

Eventually they started playing full shows. I learned a few of their songs and sang back up. I opened for them a few times too. I met a guy named Gus at one of their shows. I’d graduated from college by then, and moved to Melrose, Massachusetts—just north of Boston. But I’d still drive the hour to Providence to see these guys play, and at one of the shows I met Gus.

Gus and I had our first date on Valentine’s Day. He drove up to Melrose and I cooked him dinner. Gus and I quickly became a thing, staying at each other’s places. I still opened up for the band, Gus came to watch. The bassist still hung out and watched the drama unfold.

Gus and I had been together for about a month. It was my birthday and he took me to dinner. We sat in the car after dinner, talking before I drove north and he drove south to go home. He was 28 and he told me all about his five year plan. It included being married and with child by 30. He was 28, I was 23. He informed me, on my birthday, that if I wasn’t going to comply with his schedule then he needed to move on. We were together for a month, mind you. And the clock was ticking. I left my birthday date feeling tense, like I'd just been scolded for not being more receptive to his grand plan.

Gus wanted to move in together. I didn’t. By the time we were together for two months, the relationship was fraying. It was late April when he was going to have a date on a Friday night at the house he shared with a few housemates. The band had a show that night too. The next day Gus was supposed to go with me to a family function in Central Massachusetts. Gus and I hadn’t officially broken up. This date was more of a “straighten up and fly right girl, or I am going to dump you” kind of a thing.

I went to the show, at Café Zog in Providence. We all agreed to go to Bickfords (kind of like a Denny’s) in Warwick after the show. Gus’s house was en route. I had planned to crash Gus’ date, and then head to Bickfords. You know, totally normal thing to do, right? After all, I was still technically his girlfriend. When we were leaving the café, the band, friends and entourage was dividing up into cars. The bass player asked me if he could ride with me.

I fumbled. How could I crash Gus’ date with the bass player with me? Would I just pull up to his house and say “Wait here, I’ll be right back” and go inside and raise hell, and then just get back into the car? Weird, right?

The bassist and I drove right past Gus’ exit on 95. I squeezed my hands tightly on the steering wheel, and continued the conversation with the bassist. He and his girlfriend were on the outs too—she was studying opera at Princeton. The distance was wearing on them, as was the different worlds. The reason why he rode with me was because she had his car with her in New Jersey. She’d gotten into a wreck, and they traded cars so she could get back to school. He had her crashed up car in the driveway at his apartment, it was barely drivable, and they were going to figure it all out the next weekend.

We arrived at Bickfords. I turned off the ignition, but neither of us moved to get out of the car. We kept talking. Finally we’d gone into the restaurant a full hour after everyone else had gotten there. When we went in, we were greeted with cat calls. We exchanged phone numbers at the end of the night.

Sometime during the week the phone rang in my apartment, “Hey, it’s Todd” the voice on the phone said. “Who?” I asked. The bass player. I was packing up my apartment and moving a few blocks away. My landlord had damaged my car with his snow plow, and then jacked up my rent when I demanded he pay for it. My brothers were coming up that Friday night to move me to my new place. Todd and I made plans for him to come visit me the next weekend.

When I got to my new place, I couldn’t plug in my phone. The super painted the walls and unplugged the phone jack. The wires were so old, we couldn’t figure out how to get the phone hooked up again. All week I had no phone, until the phone company came on Friday evening. It was an old building, like more than 100 years old. The phone jack in my apartment wasn’t much newer than the building. It had 4 brown wires, and there was no way to know which one went to which socket on the phone jack.

I went into the utility room in the creepy basement with the phone company guy. The back corner beyond the laundry room and behind the boiler and through a wall of cobwebs. He plugged a receiver, that clunky orange one that the phone company guys use to plug into a wire. He held it out to me, “I think someone’s on your line.” It was Todd, the bassist.

He wouldn’t be able to make it for our date. His opera singer girlfriend’s car was so jacked up he couldn’t even make it to the train station a few miles away. “No problem, I can come to you. Let me just finish up with the phone company first.” The super of the building, a woman who resembled Courtney Love in every single way, right down to the cigarette hanging from her lips that was two thirds ash and her “Who the fuck are you?” attitude when I’d have friends over to visit my apartment. (She literally asked that to one of my friends!) Courtney was tapping her foot impatiently while I made my date with Todd in the utility room on the phone company guy’s receiver. She was pissed that she was stuck dealing with a repair (that she should have completed before I moved in) on a Friday evening.

I drove down to Providence. Todd lived in an illegal apartment above a Latino family. They told him to say he was their cousin if any sort of inspector came. Yeah, that would fly. Todd’s white, with freckles and reddish hair. He totally looked like their cousin. It was a very shitty apartment.

I drove us to the rocks in Narragansett. We walked on the beach, and out on to the rock formations. I thought for sure he would have kissed me then. Ever the gentleman he didn’t. We didn’t kiss for another month. We went back to his place, drank tea, ate brie and listened to music. It was getting late. He invited me to sleep over. He had a twin bed. I didn’t want to hog his bed. He didn’t want to look like a jerk and take the bed and leave me to the floor either. So we both slept on the floor.

It wasn’t until a month later that we kissed. A year later we moved in together. Six years later we got married.

BJ Knapp is the author of Beside the Music, available for purchase here. Please sign up for the Backstage with BJ Knapp mailing list to get updates on events, signings, dog pictures and so much more.

BJ Knapp is the author of Beside the Music, available for purchase here. Please sign up for the Backstage with BJ Knapp mailing list to get updates on events, signings, dog pictures and so much more.