While searching for a way to express my feelings for you at this moment in our lives –– as our marriage turns three years old, as our beautiful boy has been with us for half that time, and as we work together to form our strongest bond yet as a couple –– I’ve struggled to find the right words, or the right token of my affection, or the right gift for you. We’ve been through so much together already and our shared experience (especially in recent months) is much too complex to be wrapped up tidily by the right gift or gesture. I know there is no right way to express these things but I really did want to do something meaningful for you while respecting our shared financial goals. Essentially, I hoped to show you that I don’t take this anniversary for granted and that I’m still thrilled to be your teammate.

In the midst of trying to think of something that would do the trick, I came across Frank Ocean’s cover of Moon River.

You can listen to it here:

I was moved by the track. In a way, it reminded me of my earliest desire to be near you and to share music with you. Back then, when I was simply hoping you might listen to a playlist I made for you, I couldn’t have possibly imagined how much we would share together in the years ahead.

As for the song itself, Moon River gets covered fairly often in jazz circles, so I’ve had my own experiences with playing it and decided to dust up on its history. It turns out that the story behind the song contains some little threads that struck me as very appropriate for us on the occasion of our third anniversary. I’ll share a few of them here:

  • The lyrics were written by Johnny Mercer and its success was responsible for re-launching his career which had previously stalled. To my ears, the longing quality of the song contains not only a longing for love, but a longing to find oneself and reach one’s full potential in the midst of complex circumstances and transitions. 

  • Commentary on the song by Mercer experts claim that the lyrics are “reminiscent of Mercer's youth in the Southern United States and his longing to expand his horizons.”

  • One more note on the lyricist: when Johnny was a child, the Mercer family would “motor to the mountains near Asheville, North Carolina to escape the Savannah heat,” which is where Johnny learned to dance from the local mountain gals. Technically, I think I can call you my mountain gal since we spent some time in Blue Ridge territory and live just down the way from Mt. Hood!

  • The song was originally written for a scene featuring Audrey Hepburn in Breakfast at Tiffany’s, in which she sang it on the fire escape of her Upper East Side apartment while a writer upstairs listens in admiringly. The song reflects the dual nature of her character as someone who loves the city but also longs for fresh air and long summer evenings.

  • Frank Ocean released his cover of Moon River as a surprise for Valentine’s Day last year. The song has been covered by just about everyone, including Andy Williams, Bill Frisell, Judy Garland, Andrea Bocelli, and another Frank (Sinatra). For my money, F.O.’s melancholy, meandering version is the best one yet.

Maybe the lyrics skew a little dark for a love song, but I don’t read them that way. To me, chasin’ after our ends means simply: working for the type of endings we want in all the chapters of our life together. And that lyric in particular is really just a riff on finding our own rainbow’s end. I can’t imagine doing that work with anyone but you.

"This is a love song to wanderlust. " - Robert Wright, The Atlantic

I like our type of love. I like that it meandered in the early days. I like that we’ve embraced risky transitions in our home and professional lives in order to expand our horizons as a family. I like that we accept the sad songs with the glad songs. Most importantly, I like that we care enough to work for it. And while I agree with you that we shouldn’t use our “grounded view of romance” as an excuse for ignoring our issues as a couple, I appreciate how committed you are to the ongoing project of our relationship, as a beautifully imperfect work-in-progress.

Dearbhla, thank you for being my dream maker and heartbreaker. You are my moon river, ever and always.

Here’s to three wonderful years and countless more to come.


Last but not least, a small digital something for you: Select moments from our wedding day set to the lyrics from Moon River as sung by Frank Ocean

1, 2

Moon river wider than a mile
I'm crossing you in style someday (someday, day)
A dream maker (maker, maker)
My heartbreaker (you heartbreaker)
Wherever you're goin', I'm goin' that way (the same, the same)

Two drifters off to see the world
There's such a crazy world to see
We're all chasin' after all the same
Chasing after our rainbow's end

Moon river wider than a mile
Crossin' in style someday
My dream maker
Wherever you're going I'm going the same

Two drifters off to see the world
It's such a crazy world you'll see (What I see, who I become)
What I see, who I become

We're all chasin' after our end
Chasin' after our ends

( Adore & Endure )