I sing, alone, every single day. Music is truly the background of my life. When I’m not singing, I’m speaking in song lyrics (or movie quotes). So why not sing with a group?
Little Me spent time singing in church, girly giggles echoing from the choir loft through the vast cavern of high ceilings and marble floors far below where our projected voices were ordered to reach by an overenthusiastic penguin whose face resembled a scrunched-up potato. I didn’t believe most of what I was singing (a conversation for another day), but some of the music was so beautiful that I didn’t care.
Choir faded and other creative pursuits took, but I never stopped singing.
In the recent past, many years after school ended, I tried (and failed) to find a me-type group to restart some aspects of my stalled self after divorce (again, a conversation for another day). A choir not among them, the non-singing groups I found, in which I tried to participate, were places in which I didn’t quite fit.
Not that long ago, though, I decided it was time to try to be a joiner again. This time, to prevent disappointment and wasted time, I use my research and investigative skills to find one with a better shot to fit in from the get-go. I decided, too, that maybe a choir was the answer. As Miss McGgee says in the b-movie classic, Grease 2, “If you play an instrument, it’s better to play with a group than with yourself.”
As one does in the 21st century, I googled groups and, after finding said groups, I read public social media pages of members. One featured members with several “Blue Lives Matter” posters on their Facebook walls. My scrunched brow and half-grimace confirmed that, while I don’t disagree with that sentiment, my unscientific study of those who harp on that, with imagery, usually don’t see the initial and, to them, other side of that issue (a conversation for another day times three). Whilst investigating another group, I found posts about compassion, diversity, inclusion.
B-I-N-G-O, bingo is their name-o! These could be my people.
Now… to actually do it.
I contact the director, as it’s now four weeks into the new season.
“Hi! Is it too late? Could I come to a rehearsal and possibly join?”
“It’s never too late,” he writes. “Hope to see you tonight.”
The evening arrived and it was time to travel the 35 minutes to a possibly new fun adventure. That’s so far. I’m not sure where I’m going. I don’t know anybody. What if I couldn’t really sing back then and I suck? Will anybody talk to me? Why am I doing this to myself?
That was all before I pulled the car out of the driveway.
I knew sort of where I was going — an ancient church in the middle of nowhere, it seemed, but not far from this town I love. I followed the directions I printed and wound around some country roads.
You know how when you haven’t been some place before and it takes For.Ev.Er. to get there? Picture that, plus introvert anxiety like the cherry on top. It feels like it’s been days. Where IS this place? This road is long and windy. Just keep checking the signs at the intermittent stops. You’ll stay on the right road. Wait, maybe I passed it? It’s getting dark. Do I want to drive this country road home in the dark? I’m turning around. There are deer everywhere. Look at that view, though. Just a little bit further. No, I’m turning around. Come on, you’ve been to crazier places than this. Just a little bit more.
The speed slows to 25mph. I’m near a town. This has to be it. I round a curve and the white steeple appears. I crawl toward the church, slow to turn into its narrow driveway, then head to the back parking lot.
Do I really want to do this? Did I mention how dark it’s going to be on the drive home?
Back through the windy roads, back past the pretty view, back until… a red light. Wait. This cross street goes to my favorite town. Maybe I’m not as far out as I thought. I turn toward the way I think I know.
“If [my favorite town] is right over this hill, I’m going back.”
About a mile and a half later — the edge of my favorite town.
I turned my car around and headed back through the windy roads, back past the pretty view, slowing again to 25mph, re-entering the narrow driveway of the tiny church. I passed a window through which I could see the choir in a circle, singing.
I’ll just see if I can hear them if I open the door.
With the car running, I park near the entrance, get out, and head to the front door. I open it, but can’t hear singing. As it’s closing, I see a note taped to the glass: “We’re meeting downstairs.”
“That’s for me,” I said. “That’s it. I’m going in.”
I parked the car, grabbed my bag, walked to the door and opened it. The out-of-body experience began as I walked down the steps. Once in the hallway, I saw the pianist. I smiled. As I approached the room, a woman leaned over to see me better (behind the conductor) and waved. He turned.
“I’m sorry I’m late,” I said. “I got lost.”
He held his arm out, inviting me to side hug him, a complete stranger. Which. I. Did. He said, “Welcome. We are in the middle of nowhere. Now tell everyone who you are.”
“Hi, everyone. I’m Tara.”
“Hi, Tara,” in choir-like unison.
“Tara, do you happen to know what part you sing?” he asked.
Three women clapped. He handed me a packet of music. “Go sit with those troublemakers over there,” he said, pointing to the women. And I did.
The rehearsal continued. As I situated myself, the woman next to me repeated his instruction for the song they were about to do, which I didn’t know. “But we hum Greensleeves through this part. You know that, right?” I nodded.
The evening also included me trying to find the right key, funny things that people said, my battling introvert / anxiety rumbles in my stomach, but the part of me that wanted to stay grew louder and stronger than the part of me that likes to flee.
Towards the end, after a particularly challenging song, a soprano said, “Can we sing something pretty so she comes back?”
After that song: “How are you feeling?” the director asked.
“I feel good,” I said.
The tenor next to me started singing the extremely difficult part of the challenging song.
“Well… I was feeling good,” I said.
“You’ll fit right in,” the director said.
Next week is week five, already. I practice my songs (found some on the YouTube!) daily. I look forward to rehearsal nights. I wonder what other doors this may open, but the main thing is opening these doors opened a part of myself that I’d wanted to share again. The door was opened by the part of me that didn’t want to be afraid, who wanted to join in.
Turns out you just need to open the right door.