Last night, E and I went to a show at the Burren. It was a session of friends from the early-aughts (I still hate that term but what can you do?) who had “grown-up” into marriages and kids and graduate school and big jobs who got together to recapture the open mic days of their 20s.
One of the women is someone I know from work who would likely describe herself as neurotic and Type A and a bit of a control freak. I met her when she was pregnant with her first child (she now has two) and knew her primarily as a work friend who seemed to have a difficult time negotiating work and parenthood (who doesn’t?). After the birth of her second child, she left work and we lost touch until E and I bought this house in the neighborhood next to hers.
Her youngest child is four, about to go to kindergarten and she is working outside the home again, as a postpartum counselor and doula. Though she had shared one-off stories of her days busking in Harvard Square and trying to make it as a musician, I hadn’t fully realized that this meant she likely had musical talent since I saw her as a professional mom-advocate (which is silly of me to admit but there it is).
When E and I came into the back room at the Burren, she hugged me tightly and the joy in her face was mixed equally with a nervous fear. “How are you feeling?” I asked her. She looked lovely in a simple black dress, a far-cry from her usual attire of v-neck t-shirts and slouchy JCrew pants.
“I haven’t done this in 13 years,” she said, grimacing and smiling at the same time. “I’m so fucking nervous.”
E and I settled in at the bar and ordered drinks and food. The mood in the room felt convivial and familiar, like a high school reunion with hugging and exclamations and a lot of people who looked like older family members of the four performers who gathered near the stage talking closely to one another.
When the room dimmed, my friend sat in the center of the stage, holding a guitar easily. On stage, her neurotic energy was charming and she was self-effacing and openly grateful to be back on stage after her long hiatus. When she began to sing, I felt a shocking strong wave of pure emotion wash over me and tears rolled down my cheeks. Her voice was lovely; her presence luminous.
After giving birth to my daughter, the biggest change I’ve noticed in myself is my openness to emotion. I have always felt very deeply but now I am effusively emotional: I cry when I’m happy or sad; I laugh easily; I am often overcome with tears when I feel love in a room full of people. I know this sounds incredibly cheesy and overwrought but having my daughter in my life has connected me to some part of myself that finally understands the ephemeral nature of life,
So sitting in that bar, listening to my friend give space for her talent to bloom again, I couldn’t help but cry. How many of us sit on our talents? How many days and months and years go by when we forget the music or words or art that live inside of us? How long does it take before it’s gone forever? When does the lack of attention to our talents cause them to atrophy permanently?
I didn’t have these thoughts at that moment, of course. In that moment, in a room full of family and friends and watching four former friends reconnect with a part of themselves that had long lain dormant, I felt incredibly lucky to be there. To be witness to their renaissance and to have been a part of it. A lovely night.
The Drinking Update: I had a couple of gin and tonics last night but surprisingly, there is no effect on my productivity today. Perhaps there’s more going on than simple drink=no creative energy? We will see…