Last night, as I do on most Thursday nights, I spent three hours singing as part of a jazz trio at a local restaurant. I live in a rural area, and this gem of a restaurant is tucked around a corner, off of the main street in town. You would never expect to find a place like it around here. It has amazing food, a sleek and yet cozy, aesthetic ambience, and live music on Thursday nights, featuring the restaurant’s owner on guitar, a professor from the nearby college on saxophone, and me. The guitarist and the saxophonist far surpass me in musicianship – I am honored that they let me sing with them at all, because they make me sound better than I actually am. They have been playing together for years. I came on board a little over a year ago. They are great guys. It’s a great gig.
The three of us show up every Thursday for free – it’s better that way. Because when my kids are sick, or have a class trip, or when I have a vacation planned, or if anything else comes up, I don’t have to ask anyone for time off – there is no guilt if I can’t make it – there is only the commitment to show up every week and do something I love because I want to. I do my best to make sure that nothing ever comes up on Thursday nights, and I never feel quite like my best self during the weeks that follow a Thursday that I have to miss. I am pretty sure my fellow musicians feel the same way I do.
Sometimes when I am there, I notice my senses in a hyper-state, and I flash forward in my mind twenty or thirty years from now, imagining myself as a much older woman who is thinking, “Wow. Remember when I used to sing jazz on Thursday nights? That was the best time of my life.” Sometimes I imagine myself sitting in a rocking chair on the porch next to my husband. Sometimes I imagine myself watching my future granddaughter’s first piano recital. In an unlimited number of scenarios, I imagine that there will come a time when, for some reason or another, singing on Thursday nights will no longer be in my present, but in my past, and I know how fondly and longingly I will always remember these nights. I am super-aware that I am living in a temporary moment that is a precious gift.
During these moments I really try to soak everything in. I pay attention to the smells of the foods being served, to the happy conversational buzz of the patrons who have come to eat here, to the colors of the walls and the art that’s hanging on them, to the faces of the people I have come to know (because there are several “regulars” who are now friends), and of course, to the sound of the music…the sweet, sweet music.
But the music is more than just a sound. It’s a feeling. During my hyper-aware moments, I am not just singing – there’s a magical force singing through me. I get a tingly feeling up my spine that gives me goose bumps, and the music just pours out of me and fills me up at the same time. Sometimes it feels like I might cry. I am connected to every person in the room, to every person in my life, to the stars and the earth and the whole universe. It doesn’t even matter if I miss a lyric, because who cares about a mistake when joyful noise is moving through you? Not me.
Yes, these are the “good old days.” I am in them right now. I am still young enough not to be too old, my kids are young and vibrant and terrific, my husband is amazing, I have great friends and family, and I have music on Thursday nights. It just doesn’t get any better than that.