When I hear Joni

I got married in 1972 at the age of 19. Yes, we were young and foolish and in love. By 1974, we were fighting, mostly about two things: money, or the lack of it, and religion, or my lack of it.
On the money front, she was working as a nurse. I was in still in school. I did the grocery shopping with my neighbor Debi, going to two stores to get the best prices. We loathed it when our significant others wanted to go shopping too. They were always wanting to buy off-budget things like Screaming Yellow Zonkers.
On the religion front, she became a Baha’i, while I was pulling away from my traditional, near fundamentalist Christian ways to a place of serious doubt about organized religion altogether. Baha’is aren’t supposed to proselytize, but she was pretty isolated and wasn’t aware of that. And the primary target of her conversion tactics was me.
Also, she had this annoying tendency to bring strays home. I don’t mean stray dogs or cats. I mean people. Two different women were sleeping on our couch for considerable periods of time. I didn’t know them, I didn’t invite them, and they weren’t even paying any rent.
Early in the summer of 1974, we bought tickets to see Joni Mitchell on August 22 at the Saratoga Performing Arts Center, something I was really looking forward to. We rode up from New Paltz to Saratoga, a distance of some 90 miles, with my friend Mark and his then-girlfriend. They were in the front seats. For 90 miles, I (and they) heard a tirade of everything that I had ever done wrong in the relationship, including things I thought were resolved, things I had no idea bothered her from months earlier, and things I had no idea what she was talking about. This continued out of the car, through the SPAC gates, into our seats. Certainly she would stop when the music started. No, she kept on, even when the opening act, Tom Scott and the L.A. Express, who would also be Joni’s backing band, started playing.
I got up and sat somewhere else, some 20 rows behind her and my friends. There were people checking tickets in the amphitheater to make sure people were in the correct seats, so I moved around. At intermission, I went back to our original seats. My wife was crying hysterically because the ticket checkers had misread one of the tickets of another patron, was going to put him in her seat and throw her out because she didn’t have a ticket at all. (I had them both.)
We saw the second part of the show without incident. (This was the tour reflected in the Miles of Aisles album.) We went home, and I doubt any of the four of us uttered 10 words for that 90 miles home.
We separated shortly after that, wrote bilious letters back and forth, then less angry correspondence. We finally got to a point of being quite civil.
I went to visit her in 1981. By then, she was living in Philadelphia. There was an outdoor concert that we went to see. I don’t remember much about the performance. I was just glad we had gotten to be in a better place. The performer, of course, was Joni Mitchell.

Artist/Band: Joni Mitchell (b. Roberta Joan Anderson, 11/7/1943)
Are you male or female: Lucky Girl
Describe yourself: Cold Blue Steel and Sweet Fire
How do some people feel about you: Real Good for Free
How do you feel about yourself: Pirate of Penance
Describe what you want to be: Don Juan’s Restless Daughter
Describe how you live: Impossible Dreamer
Describe how you love: You Turn Me On-I’m a Radio
Share a few words of wisdom: In France They Kiss on Main Street; God Must Be a Boogie Man

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