Groovy Kind of Love

Written by Lydia Benedict.


1988 was a big year. I voted for the first time and Dukakis and Bush ran for president. Pan Am Flight 103 was blown up over Lockerbie, Scotland, killing 270 people. Libyans were believed responsible. And the Iran-Iraq War ended. It was also the year I graduated from high school.

Four years of high school had felt like an eternity. I didn’t have my future figured out: all I knew was that I wanted to be a writer and I wanted to see the world. My plan was to go to college so I enrolled at Brigham Young University. But to see the world required money I didn’t have so I dreamed of becoming a stewardess—or flight attendant. For a girl from a large family whose travels were limited to family reunions in Idaho, traveling as a stewardess sounded exciting and daring. On my way to BYU, however, I took a detour to Connecticut. I never left. And instead of traveling the world, I got married—two weeks before my 19th birthday. That was 25 years ago this month.

When Jeff and I got married, we didn’t have a cent to our names. In fact, our wedding reception was potluck and decorations consisted of party streamers. And a friend made our wedding cake as a gift. We worked three jobs a piece—one full-time job and two part-time. But we were young and Groovy Kind of Love by Phil Collins was us.

When I’m feeling blue, all I have to do
Is take a look at you, then I’m not so blue
When you’re close to me, I can feel your heart beat
I can hear you breathing near my ear
Wouldn’t you agree, baby you and me got a groovy kind of love

Then there were all the years of schooling: undergrad, graduate, and law school. We each worked full-time at Northeastern University in Boston and took advantage of our tuition benefits to put ourselves through school. We worked all day, went to school at night, and studied every other waking moment. One summer Jeff graduated with his Master’s Degree. The next I graduated with my Bachelor’s. A month after that, Tennyson was born. Another month and Jeff started law school. One more month and I went back to my full-time job at the university.

Jeff & Clancy

Jeff juggled baby-duty, law studies, and his first book project during the day and attended class by night. Sometimes Jeff would drive down to campus at the end of my workday with Tennyson strapped into his infant car seat. I took Tennyson home while Jeff jumped on the train to get to school. Jeff spent Saturdays in the Brookline Public Library studying. Every Saturday morning I stood at the picture window of our little apartment in Coolidge Corner with Tennyson in my arms, watching Jeff trudge off to the library. It didn’t matter if it was sunny, rainy, or snowy. Tennyson and I spent our Saturdays together while Jeff spent his alone with his law books.

Jeff & Tennyson

All those school years took its toll. The anxiety of trying to maintain a high GPA while working full-time turned me into an insomniac. I quickly lost track of how many nights Jeff would fight off sleep just so I didn’t have to spend another anxious, sleepless night alone.

Halloween with Tennyson & Clancy

Even before law school was over, Jeff’s writing career was taking off. We also had our second son, moved back to Connecticut, and Jeff ran for U.S. Congress. Plenty of nights Jeff came home from political meetings with his head hung low. Politics is like that. Our first daughter was born just a month after Jeff’s campaign ended.

Maggie May with her brothers

A few years later, I had my own campaign when I ran for the board of education. This time it was Jeff who stayed home with the kids while I attended late night school board meetings, knocked doors, and gave speeches. Jeff managed my campaign, gave me tips for political debates, and encouraged me to keep going. When one man called me a religious fanatic and warned that I would burn books, Jeff lent me his humor. When a woman accused me of being anti-education, Jeff lent me his ears. And when one man wrote in the newspaper that I was a hedonist, Jeff lent me his shoulder.

Anytime you want to you can turn me onto
Anything you want to, anytime at all
When I kiss your lips, ooh I start to shiver
Can’t control the quivering inside
Wouldn’t you agree, baby you and me got a groovy kind of love

Three months after my campaign ended, my second daughter was born. And less than two years after that, we did something we never thought we’d do. We left Connecticut. We wanted to slow down, plant a garden, have a few animals, and gain some privacy. We were naïve. Twenty acres, a Civil War-era house, gardens, and animals aren’t exactly conducive to slowing down. Add home schooling, feature writing for Sports Illustrated, and multiple book projects and our speed has only increased.

Boating with Tennyson, Clancy, Maggie May, and Clara Belle

Soon after we’d moved to Virginia, a southerner assured us that living in the south would slow us down, but that it takes two years to get the north out of you. It’s been six years now. I don’t think it’s working.

Now Jeff is on the road more than ever. With two new books published this fall, he’s hardly home. And when he is home, he is still working. Yet in between radio talk shows, he helps Clara with her reading and writing. And in between interviews for his next book, he works on mathematics with Maggie. And late at night after teaching his own college classes, Jeff will sit down with the boys to sneak in an episode of White Collar.

Jeff & Clancy

Jeff & Tennyson

A couple weeks ago, Jeff and I went to the movies in nearby Staunton. We grabbed sandwich wraps at a little organic grocery store café and then visited a chocolate shop. Jeff’s cell phone buzzed and he stepped outside to take the call. I picked out a chocolate each for me, Jeff and our children. When I pulled out my credit card, the young lady behind the register noticed a little yellow sticky note that I had stuck to the inside flap of my wallet a couple years ago. It was a note from Jeff: “You’re a sexy babe!”

The clerk smiled. “I like your note,” she said.

I told her it was from my husband.

“It’s nice to get notes like that,” she said. She pointed to Jeff, who was pacing the sidewalk outside the chocolate shop, talking on his phone. “He’s a good man.”

“He is,” I said.

Twenty-five years ago, I married my best friend. Not all my dreams have been fulfilled. I haven’t seen parts of the world I would have as a stewardess, but I’ve seen other parts that I never dreamed of. And I didn’t launch my writing career, but I supported Jeff in his. It’s called teamwork. From potluck wedding to New York Times bestseller, it’s been a long haul. And two forays into politics and twelve books have made for one hell of a ride. But it’s the little things like help cleaning up dinner, or vacuuming the house, or a warm embrace on a sleepless night that has melded my heart to his.

When I’m feeling blue, all I have to do
Is take a look at you, then I’m not so blue
When I’m in your arms, nothing seems to matter
My whole world could shatter, I don’t care
Wouldn’t you agree, baby you and me got a groovy kind of love