There were a few Johnny Cash songs that I swear were written for us, although they were written long before we ever knew of him, and often long before either of us were born. “Jackson,” “Walk the Line,” “If I Were a Carpenter,” and more. “Ring of Fire,” however, is special.
When Brian and I fell in love, we did fall into a ring of fire. It was the wrong time. The deck was stacked against us. We knew that we would hurt some folks, shock some folks, and, as it ended up, lose some friends. But we fell deep into the ring of fire and it burned a lot around us. Amazing thing, fire. It burns and destroys and yet you cannot live without it. Another amazing thing is that what is burned grows back tenfold. Brian and I burned a lot down, but what grew in the nearly 14 years after we fell into the fire grew and spread and went wild. We made love, we made children, we made a family, we made a home, we made friends, we made a life. The life spread and it touched people and places and things and they, too, started to burn only eventually to grow and flourish. I still hear often, in fact I heard it just today, that people are touched by our love and it has inspired them to not settle for anything less than what we had.
Brian was a man of countless skills and talents, but singing wasn’t one of them. One night last summer, Brian and I went out to our little hidden hole in the wall bar with a couple of friends (and by a couple, I mean a couple of friends who are a couple.) Admittedly, we all had a little too much to drink, but it just so happened that there was Karaoke there that night. Now, while I sang in high school, I never had sung Karaoke before, but that was all about to change. I went to the bathroom and when I came out, the other woman we were out with had us signed up and the music was starting for us to sing. And sing we did. It was HORRIBLE. Brian and the other guy laughed and cheered and hooted and hollered and I vowed right then and there that Brian’s day would come. Oh yes, it would come.
Now, I know that I have mentioned this before, but let me repeat: Brian was a very private man. VERY private. He never wanted to do much to show himself off (unless he was fishing and taking your dinner, or shooting pool and taking your money.) Brian was a quiet man to most people and he vowed that he would never sing Karaoke. Swore up and down that he’d never get behind that mic and sing. I also know that I have mentioned how persistent I am. As persistent as I was about the beard, I tried every single time we were at that bar for months and months to get him to sing. We would laugh and joke and tease and play – we were great playmates – and have more fun than any two mortal humans should be allowed to have, but he would not sing.
Until the night that he did.
It was a slow night at the bar. Regulars and maybe 20 other randoms floating around. He got a twinkle in his eye. I don’t know what happened, but next thing you know, he signed up. While this bar is little and not many people know about it, there are some serious Karaoke regulars there and they run the show, so his name was way down on the list. We sat and listened to others, cheered the good ones, giggled at the not so good ones, and drank beer and bided our time. And then they called his name. My amazing husband, the man who never sang, who never wanted to be the focus of attention, went up, grabbed the mic, took a shot of whiskey, sat down, and sang. He sang “Ring of Fire.”
And it was horrible.
And it was wonderful and funny and beautiful and the most precious memory I have because he had never done it before, will never do it again, and I know as well as I know my own name that he would have NEVER EVER EVER done it with anyone else. And I also know that he sang it, not only for me, but to me. As much as I wanted to, I took no pictures, no videos, but I remember it like it happened five minutes ago. It burned me up. It burned him up. And we both grew thicker, more vibrant and tighter together for it.
The taste of love is sweet
When hearts like ours meet.
I fell for you like a child,
Oh, but the fire went wild.