When I was a kid, I'm sure I had dreams of what I wanted to be or do when I grew up. I am equally certain that I'm not being or doing any of them. I often hear of people saying "Oh, I always wanted to be/do this..." about their careers or lives, and I think that's pretty amazing. I wonder how they managed to focus on that job or life at a young age and hold onto it through their formative years, through the turmoil of growth, change, maturing, hormones, and everything that leads to adulthood. Good grief, it's enough to hang onto a sense of self through all of that - and really, how many sad tales are there in the world of people who didn't manage even that??
I know I wanted to be a ballerina at one time. My grandmother used to take me to see the Nutcracker in Boston every year, and I was always enchanted. She'd dress me up in some foofy little dress that I adored, and the completely necessary patent-leather shoes with silver buckles over stretchy tights. I wasn't permitted long hair back then, so I had a barrette or two to finish my look, and I felt terribly grown up and important because I didn't know many (or any?) other kids who went to the ballet. Oh, how I wanted to learn how to float across the stage like those ballerinas! Oh, how I wanted to be lifted high, spun, and placed gently on my toes again. Oh, how often I was told that I was too fat, too tall, not graceful enough.
I think, at one time, I wanted to be a nurse. The funny thing is, Mum wanted very much to be a nurse when she was a young woman, and was told that it was too common a job for someone of her lineage. Basically, her parents thought it was too plebeian, and she was told she wouldn't have tuition if she went to nursing school. She settled for less (or more, depending on your perspective), and not until I was nearly grown did the opportunity arise for her to try...and she decided she was too old to start such an arduous process, so she went to law school instead. Yeah, I know, right angles there! I never knew about her dream until I was grown, so my fleeting fancy was all my own.
I absolutely wanted to ride horses. I didn't care how, I just wanted to ride them. A jockey, I thought, or a jumper. My cousin C was a natural horsewoman - she was graceful, strong, slender, and pretty. She was even an Olympic jumping alternate at one time. Me? Mmm...not so much. Again with the too big, too tall, seat not good enough...and then there was the need to ride fast and actually leave the ground on a horse. Squeal!! So a vet, then? Discouraged by the grandmother who was so adept at cutting dreams down before they could grow past seedling stages. I would, by the way, have made a terrific vet.
I wanted to be a writer. A poet. Yeah, have you looked at the market for poetry? If you're wondering "what market?" you get my point. I liked to tell stories, and even started writing a few, but was told they were transparent, lacked depth, needed better character development and lacked maturity. Really? At thirteen, fourteen years of age I lacked maturity? Well, dang.
Music was something that couldn't be cut out of me, squashed, denigrated, or discouraged...and she didn't want to. My grandmother herself had often sung when she was young, and even ran a night-club/cabaret/dinner joint in California where semi-famous and rather well known folks would hang out on occasion. Who? Oh, I don't know, some group of guys named after rodents. The Hamster Guys? No, no...um...The Mice Men! Yeah, no. Oh, wait, I remember...The Rat Pack! Ever heard of them? So music was good and we had liftoff. I was in my teens by then, and a bit late at the start, but I figured what the hey, it's just singing, right? Yeah, right.
As you are not reading a blog about my singing exploits, travels with a band or stage show, fame, wealth, gold records or composition prowess, I'm guessing you know how that went. I did go to college on a full music scholarship for a year, but to keep the scholarship I had to be competitive, which I am not. I won't downplay the talents of another or try to undermine them to make myself look or sound better. In my mind, you either have it or you don't, and you should stand on your own merit. I also had to play catch up to people who had been taking music theory for decades - I'd had two years in high school - and who could sight read music in their sleep and didn't get all tangled up with their hands while playing piano. I wasn't college material in so many ways, really it was a good thing I sort of snapped and hid in my bedroom at Mum's house rather than going back. Maybe hiding for a year was not so terrific, but hey...I did sharpen my typing skills with my forays online and into the burgeoning world of AOL. Whoopee.
So why am I bringing this up?
I was listening to some random CD selections last night and one of my Cirque du Soliel albums came up - I put it in because I was reminded of it over at Dad Gone Mad. Have you ever seen one of the Cirques? Through my stint as a volunteer for the Festival of Trees to benefit Eggleston (later Children's Healthcare of Atlanta, after they merged with Scottish Rite), I had the opportunity to bid (well, as I recall I talked Mum into bidding) on some prime seats for Dralion in Atlanta. Four tickets to the show and to a party beforehand for a few (hundred) special guests...including us. Sweet!
The show was...well, like Cirque, it defies description. Brutal. Ethereal. Surreal. Transcendent. Visceral. Hilarious. Bizarre. Lovely. It was curiously pagan, reminiscent of the five sacred things that make up all of creation. I wept through parts of it, so in awe was I of the story I perceived and the beauty of the movement. The acrobatics were top notch, of course, and the contortionists had more than one audience member wincing...but it was the tissu that roused in me the urge to stop time, to watch and watch and watch that dance of fabric and flesh, the defiance of gravity seemingly without effort. How they flowed up and sown that silken flow of woven threads. How they soared. With T, Mum, and the sister-of-my-heart (also initialed "K") around me, I was transported. K and I held hands throughout, squeezing from time to time when something was especially...deep.
Then there was the music. Every bit of the show was set to music. Did the Tissu dancers soar? So did the vocals. Was the German Wheel forceful? So were the drums, gutteral, demanding in their rhythm and tempo. It cut through, wove around, rose above and sank below the movement. I am a musicia more than anything. Of all the things I didn't do or become, musician is the most present, the most...here and now. That I still sing, write music, revel in it, doesn't mean I'm a musician by society's standards, but...what do I care for society's definitions, anyway? Music and words, words and music, with these can Gods shape worlds, and on a good day...on a good day, with these can I shape how the people around me will feel, will be, at least for a little while.
I'm not often proud of myself. I don't often believe that anything I do is worth spit. I do believe, though, that I've shaped both written and sung words in powerful ways, and I know that music can alter my perception of the world around me - can lift or deaden my spirit in moments.
So now I have a new, perhaps frightfully silly dream. I want to be a Cirque singer.
Given that I do not sing in any language but English (I can sing Italian, French, German, Latin, Spanish, and anything written phonetically, but I only comprehend English), have no technique to speak of, can't read music any more, am overweight and my breathing isn't exactly sterling...given all that, I'm not afraid to learn, to try, and to give it my all. I'm a shoo-in, right??
Somebody get me an application, quick!!