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Pushing Through the Membrane

I have a ton of work to do today. I should be writing a proposal for a client. Actually, I need to write 3 different proposals today. But I can’t get started. I can’t dig in.

Something happened last night. Something that shifted me into a new place and allowed me to relocate a part of myself I’ve been missing since I moved to New York.

I got to sing in public.

Jazz guitarist Dennis Winge, whom I’ve just started to work with a little, invited me to sit in at his regular Friday night gig at Isabella’s in Ossining. So, my friend Mark and I drove down last night, in spite of the fact I had had an emotionally exhausting day and felt ambivalent about everything, including my ability to sing in any kind of remotely decent manner.

But I knew I had to go, no matter how I felt. I had to stand up and sing in public in this strange new land I live in: the Hudson Valley of New York. I had to claim myself as a singer here, to start somewhere, in this small, under-the-radar way. My fear was that I’d buckle in on myself, that the heavy emotions of the day and the intense vulnerability left in its wake would consume me, drag me under, and I’d sing badly, then fall apart.

But when we got to Isabella’s, a small, brightly lit Italian restaurant (with really good pasta, by the way), I knew I’d be okay. Dennis was sitting and playing at the far end of the restaurant. Mark and I joined Dennis’s wonderful wife, Caroline, and their son, Max, who were sitting at a table up front. There was hardly anyone in the restaurant; the place was so quiet. Except for Max, who would break out into loud, joy-filled screams every so often.

I won’t bore you with the whole story. I’ll just say that I got to sit in twice, singing a total of three songs, and it felt great. I sang well, felt anchored in each song, and got to connect with sweet people sitting at the table on the right. And this simple act of of standing up in front of any kind of audience, large or small, attentive or distracted, reconnected me to a part of myself I’d been missing, the part that hasn’t had a chance to show up since I got to New York. The part of me that loves making music and sharing it with an audience.

Sure, I had that guest spot in Jason Britton’s show in New York City back in July, which was an honor. But to be honest, I didn’t sing so well then. I was disappointed in my performance. But last night, I did okay. And now to have found this amazing guitarist to work with, after searching in vain for a pianist, well, I feel like more of me has found its way to the Hudson Valley, that I pushed through the membrane of geographical resistance, and now, now, it all starts.

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