Friday, April 06, 2007


Something lifted this week, like an opaque scrim, or the shift of light after cleaning a dirty plate glass window, becoming visible only in the removal. A weight, a burden, not sure what exactly, has lifted creating a space.

I listened to music again.

Seems like this would be an insignificant thing, but I assure you it is quite a significant piece of the puzzle, like a slow healing and peeling back of the bandaging.

Before, I really couldn't hear. I would not allow myself to listen. I could not associate. I disconnected in order to be done with it and move on. But this was different. There was something about this particular artist, the words, her tone, her voice-- that woke me from a deep sleep. This time I could listen. This time I could really hear. Somehow, this one reached me,
a symbiotic spark reflected in my frozen lake which began a long-deserted thaw.

There was something here that struck me--aside from the delicious melodies and harmonies, or the team of influences on this record, the same type of record I would want to make--like the intersection of fateful stars lining up over my slice of sky.

There was recognition, resonance too, words about being tired of fighting, standing up for your beliefs, taking the hits and still standing. She took on a slew of rabid opponents and came back unapologetic. Steadfast. True. But in her voice I could hear the fight and the toll it had taken in her life. Worn. Torn. Weary. Her words rang deep within my blood, coursing, awakening a sleeping muse.

In some ways, it was just what I needed to hear.

Except I have been hiding. Covering myself. Licking my wounds. Allowing others the spotlight, the power, the strength, the glory. I have denounced my standing, accepting defeat, and instead, relegated myself to becoming the "glue." Invisible. Predicting and solving needs. All except my own. Where have I gone?

Love is a funny thing. I spent so many years chasing after it in vain, desperately seeking the always illusive, unavailable one. Years ago, when I finally met and fell in love with the man who would eventually become my husband, I promised I would shout out to those who might listen, hey, you can't spend your whole life turning yourself into a pretzel, silencing yourself, contorting in order to make it work, make him love you. That isn't love. If it doesn't fit, it doesn't fit, it never will fit.

What was so astounding when love hit us was it was so…unbelievably effortless. Couldn't not be. I was full. I was me in full glory. And it didn't hinder us at all, rather, it drew us in to the flame. Coming up on a dozen years and some major growing pains later, I wonder if I can still be fully me--whatever that means--and we can survive the transition.

I sat at the piano this week for the first time in over three years. It was awkward at first, but then it felt good as I found my way again, like letting out a breath that had been held in for so long you had forgotten how to fully exhale. I played through the last unrecorded song I had written, before I allowed Motherhood and the escalating stress of our lives to seal me into silence.

Music, like the flow of something so primal as blood or water, trickled through my veins from before I was ever born. It's in my genes. How can I deny myself this birthright? Because others were more popular? Made more money at it? Were more skilled, or more connected?

Taking my place on the wooden Chickering bench, gouged and nicked by the careless actions of others, my hands tentatively find the keys, keys made grimy with kid fingerprints and a layer of dust, crumbs, and now, tears. Little bird becoming uncaged.

Saddened and angry at myself for deferring, I want to lash out. I want to blame him. He's the composer, he's the talented one. People pay him the money, not me. I was just the na├»ve firecracker, splattering my art, unpolished, rough and crude as it was with little to no budget, peddling my wares around the globe to any takers who'd have me. … I'm just a Compass Girl, a nomad and misfit, wandering spirit, wandering through this world… until I wandered into this town and into his arms.

He chose me. It was mutual. Eventually I gave up the fight. I lay down my sword. Love changed everything.

As the "business" was changing, I looked up to his expertise. I sang for free, I arranged for free, I produced for free, on tracks he will own and recoup in perpetuity. I went non-union, buyout, no resids, no health coverage, no retirement, to "keep it in and feed the family." It's a cruel business, I know.

But I am angry. I am releasing mute. FTS.

Chords dance out of my fingertips. My daughter delights in this free-formed expression. We play together, then apart…fierce, and tender, tickling and fluttering, alternately heavy and bombastic, discordant and catastrophic, then delicately melodic.

"Wow! I really liked some of those changes you were playing. It's not what I'd expect from you!" He was eavesdropping.

I only smile.

Ah, but you think you know me? You think you can define me? I'll surprise you every time.

Because Creativity refuses to be contained, held captive, the good little wife, bowing down before her man, boosting up his "bone-crushing" fragile ego, lovely as it may be.


Jerri said...

Sometimes I think we live the same life in different times and shapes, T. I, too, gave all my time and talents to HIS career for years and year to "keep it in and feed the family."

Later I uncovered bottomless wells of rage over this choice. Rage at him, mostly. It took many more years to recognize that he had not asked this of me, I volunteered over and over. (Of course, neither did he refuse my help or support the idea of my own ventures, but that's another story.)

I tell you all this to gently suggest that you ask yourself why you choose this path.

The answers to that question were enormous turning points for me. I hope they might be for you, too.

so much love,

Prema said...

God, this is righteous! So true to the phoenix that rises, firey and wise. I think motherhood takes us deep into some territory that we barely know how to name. Certainly our culture does not put it on the map at all. How could we know until we go there....and climb back. But not really back, just here again. Here and different because of the journey.

You are full and beautiful. Trust that your art is within. Don't trust all your thoughts about it, just begin to make art in whatever way draws you, as you have been doing. Love.