Nearly 24 hours later, I am still high off the feeling of performing live with The Heartsleeves last night. It’s managed to even surpass the “morning after headache” that I have. After going to bed at 2am, I somehow sprung out of bed at 7:30am (no kids in the house, mind you!), took a shower, sang in said shower, got dressed, went to the grocery (hummed along to the songs still resonating in my head), did laundry, cleaned the house, and even started homework — all while fueled from the feeling of last night.
Singing live was like that feeling of being right at the very top of the roller coaster — you know, those brief 2 seconds when you are teetering, ready to go over the edge. You can see the entire world, and for but a moment, the air feels just right. Your heart is racing, your hands are bracing the railing just seconds before they fly up into the air, your eyes widen, and you take one more breath through your lips. That’s how I’ve felt for the past 24 hours.
That feeling was, of course, made possible by the show of support from all different pockets of friends — people who decided that coming out to a bar at 10:45pm was worth it. That I was worth it. And, though they had never heard a note of the CD, never heard of the band, and didn’t know anyone else there, they came. For me, in that moment, the room was filled with love: the people I loved most, the music that has made me fall in love again, and the love I needed to have for myself to take the risk on stage. I saw friends smiling, my husband cheering me on from the front row, and strangers making eye contact with us.
Though my philosophy of life has been shaped by Joli, my singing has been shaped by Jada. Now, Jada doesn’t get a whole lot of attention on this blog. Mostly because she’s a pretty easy child. In fact, when she was an infant, I actually almost left without her a few times from my parents’ house. Jorge, Joli and I would race out the door, and inevitably, one of my family members would say, “Uh, aren’t you forgetting someone? Ahem. Jada?” Dang. Back up the stairs one of us would go, grab my tiny happy baby all strapped into her car seat, and then head out the door. Head hung in shame.
That “quiet-baby-phase” didn’t last too long though. In fact, that quiet baby evolved into SassyJada.
Sassy. Sassy. Sassy. Jada.
(who, by the way, now insists she ISN’T sassy … as she puts her hands on her hips, stares you down, cranks her neck, and says, “I’m telling you. I am NOT sassy.”)
By the age of 2, Jada was already spittin’ out comebacks, snarky remarks, and comments that would make your head whip around and say, “Um, what did you just say?” Eventually we just had to share these comments with world via Twitter (@sassyjadasays) because they were just too funny to keep to ourselves. Let me be clear, though. Jada isn’t rude, fresh or naughty. Just the opposite. She’s the sweetest little bug-a-boo you ever want to be around. She just also keeps it real. Very, very real.
About a year and a half ago, Jada was the one who called me out for not following my dreams. And, now, two live shows later, I can’t believe I didn’t try earlier.
Singing, for me, has always been a part of my being. I’ve always been a singer. My earliest memories are of making my Mama Lola (grandmother) sit and watch me sing the entire soundtrack of “Grease.” (little did I know what the lyrics meant!). In elementary school, I’d sit on my front porch with my friend Amy Burke and, at the top of our lungs, sing the entire soundtrack to “Annie.” That soon led to writing my own songs, composing the music, and even starting a fake band called “Ceryous” (a.k.a. “Serious” like “Are you SERIOUS?”) with my friend Jill Horowitz. Jill and I even sent out fake pitch letters — early signs that I’d love grant writing as an adult — to my relatives asking them for money to help produce our first album. No one sent us anything. Maybe it was because we were only 11 years old and wrote it in magic marker on old scrap paper from my Dad’s office.
Soon came Show Choir (please, no one post the pink fuscia dresses that we had to wear. The image of me still makes my sister Mary pee her pants from laughing so hard!). Musical theater. Then, Williams Street Mix acappella. Then APC Rhythm in New York City. Started my own acappella group at the private school where I taught. Then, I sort of lost the confidence in singing publicly. Soon, singing became only something I did to pass the time with Joli in chemo.
But, now, singing is my drug. I love the high, and I find ways to re-create it all the time. The car. My desk. Walking the grocery aisles. I actually downloaded a “Countdown” app for my phone so I can watch how much time is left until our next show.
(Shameless plug: April 13th at Gulu Gulu cafe in Salem, MA; probably a 10pm start time)
I breathe it.
I owe this to a then 4- year old. A four year old girl who reminded me that I’d never know unless I tried. I shudder to think what I would have missed.
She was right.
Peace, love, and moving through the risk,