Friday, May 28, 2004

With apologies to Morgan Llywelyn

(Note: I have officially remembered the blog topic from the other night...the one that escaped me in my sleep. Brace yourselves...another long one!) So I've been re-reading a book called "Druids." I know it's not the most popular of books (or authors) with some folks, but I like it, so cope. There is a line that repeats throughout the story, and it struck me the first time I read the book several years ago. And lately, it's been on my mind a great deal. So I'll co-opt the line for today's post.

I was a person who sang.

Music has always been a big part of my life. Some of my earliest and happiest memories are of singing in the car with my mom and sister. Living in Wyoming, especially growing up on a ranch 20 miles from ANYthing and 40 miles from SOMEthing, you've got a bit of time in the car when you go anywhere. Trips to church, grocery shopping, visiting, or for other errands involved time on dirt roads with little option for radio stations. Compound that with a mother who's not fond of rock and roll's "sex, drugs, and alcohol attitude" and my dislike for most country music, and the radio in the wilds of northeastern Wyoming is out.

So we sang our way along. Show tunes. Disney songs. Silly songs. Fun songs. Campfire songs. Any songs we could think of, we'd sing them. We'd sing on the way to Wright or Gillette. We'd sing on the long road trips back to Illinois. We'd sing on our weekend or day trips to scenic spots in the Black Hills or around Wyoming. Show tunes and Disney were always present. Perhaps that should have been a clue, eh? Maybe the Southern Baptists are right: Disney is evil and will turn kids gay. Ha. It's funny....laugh, dammit.

I was a person who sang.

Once we moved to Wright, I joined choirs. I was in the Children's Choir at Church. Then it was Show Choir at the elementary school. There were tryouts for that even! It was pretty competitive for Wright, Wyoming, and I made it in both years I could, 5th AND 6th grade. In Junior High I took Choir as an elective. I went to the North East District Honor Choir and Clinic both years. We had an outstanding director who really made me love music, despite the comments from some of my classmates. After all...Choir? In Wyoming? For boys? There were only 3 of us, you know.

As I entered 9th grade, we lost our director, thanks to an ass of a principal. The new person was nice enough, but didn't have the skills or enthusiasm. She didn't understand how to make us passionate about music. That, combined with growing peer pressure and a burgeoning understanding of who I was...and that Choir might reveal that, made me leave "organized music," despite a few awards and a heavy heart. I still sang with the fam in the car. I sang at church too, though I wasn't long for "organized religion" either - go figure. On holidays, the Parkers and my family would often perform songs in Spanish or German, especially "Silent Night." And we were pretty good, if I do say so myself. I'd drive around town with my friends, singing along to the radio, cassettes, or CD's. Music became more private for me. Something for small groups, close friends, or evenings at home with the family. Not for public performances.

I was a person who sang.
Until the music stopped.

Of course, not practicing "organized music" means I lost some of my skills. When you don't flex your muscles (or your voice), they weaken a bit. Basic anatomy, right? Being depressed and suicidal while coming to terms with the fact I wasn't straight didn't help matters either, and music was soon something I listened to, but didn't really sing with. Unless it was a sad song. And so on the rare occasions I sang, people were surprised. They didn't know I could do it! While I'll never have a professional music career, I CAN carry a tune in something other than a bushel basket.

A don't really really remember when it happened, but one day I felt like singing again. Well, I do know when it was, I suppose. Someone came into my life and showed me what it could be like to have someone in my life. Someone to lean on, confess everything to, and someone to hope for. Without dating, I still knew what a relationship could be like. And the music came back.

I AM a person who sings.

And music is still here for me. Though music is still something private for me, and many of my friends don't witness me singing much. I randomly break into Billy Joel tunes and, oddly enough, Christmas carols. The pups sometimes look at me like I'm crazy, but there are times I can't help but sing. Loudly, and at the edge of my range. I've found my range and breath control returning somewhat, as I'm practicing again, albeit informally. In the car, the shower, the living room...doesn't matter. And I fully expect to be in rare musical form on the impending road trip. (Fair warning, ladies!)

The lesson for today: We all have a song in our hearts, we just have to remember how the tune goes. Maybe it's one we write, or one we've heard on the radio. Something that speaks to us, to our very soul. Something that reminds us why we wake up in the morning, or the smile a dear friend can bring to our face. It's there inside us always, even when we want to be sad or wallow or cry or scream or rage. Remember the song and hold onto it tight, but also remember to let it out once in a while. For I am not the only person who sings. We all make music in different ways. We all have a song. Let your heart and soul sing it out loud in whatever form it takes. Even in great sorrow, there can be joy...or at least comfort.

Sing with me...

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