I leave the solitude of my cabin and spend some time in Nashville for New Years Eve. I’m not quite sure how to properly honor the occasion but I do know that I want to see more of what this city has to offer.
I’m self-conscious with my haircut and half-wishing I had already shaved my head in order to practice dealing with its awkwardness in the company of strangers. I can’t tell what exactly it is that I want out of this night. To make friends? To flirt? To have some great epiphany? No way to guarantee any of them but my choices of how I spend my time will make some outcomes more likely than others.
I go to an OA meeting, I take myself out to lunch, I write and drink coffee at a downtown cafe and almost order a cookie. I know where that leads and that is one thing I definitely don’t want for myself today.
As it gets dark I walk around and into a trashy-yet-self-aware “boogey bar” with some of the best free live music I’ve ever heard. Now you’re talking. After awhile I float down the street and into a karaoke bar. To sing karaoke in Nashville was the one cultural goal of my trip and here’s my chance. The bar is pretty much empty and I get picked right away to sing “Bobbie McGee.” I love that song but its hard to sing and Janis is so weird and I as self conscious so I don’t make it through very many of the la la las. Why did I even pick that song? It’s so much longer than I remember, I wish they’d cut me off. At least I did what I came there to do.
I sit back down and asked my new friend Shawn how I did. “Honestly?” Oh shit, yeah, honestly. “Honestly, why would you choose to sing in public and then be shy about it? Why would you be careful and self-conscious? You’re in a bar full of strangers anyway, you have a good voice and you obviously like singing or your wouldn’t be here. So just enjoy it and sing.” Oh my god he’s right.
Why have this fear around something I enjoy? Why have false modesty about something I think I’m good at? Every second I spend downplaying my gifts or talents is a second wasted. It’s a favorite hobby of mine to stick my neck out there and then personally apply the guillotine afterward. I want a voice, I want to write, I want to sing, and I want to be able to be proud of what I do well instead of apologizing for it. I’ll take the responsibility for what I do wrong, so why not be proud of what I do?
I tell Shawn that if my name got picked again, I’ll try my best to do it right this time. 30 minutes later they’re calling my name, here goes. I stand up and sing Tracy Chapman “I’m the Only One” like it’s just me in my car. I have to close my eyes when I feel the urge to hold back but I’m singing so loud my voice goes sharp.
I don’t ask Shawn how I did, my voice is a little sore and I know I could’ve used auto-tune but I feel good and I’m proud. It’s 8pm, 4 hours till next year and I’m ready to take myself back to my little cabin to spend the new years alone.
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