I was so proud of myself. I sang a movement of the Rutter Requiem, and it was extraordinarily well-received. I had a lot of people come up to me afterward and congratulate me on a job well done, and the best part was being able to take it in. To really hear the compliments given and not write them off as, “ohh, you’re just saying that.” It’s usually my normal mode of operation to reject a compliment, but that hasn’t worked my whole life so why not stop it? Why beat myself up while other people are trying to give me love? I think and pray on these things, and with each day, I feel a little bit stronger.
In fact, I would have made it the entire day without crying had it not been for one woman that gutted me like a fish, and thank God she said it as I was walking out so that I could go home and cry instead of what I did yesterday, which was sing at a funeral and cry all the way through it even though I had never met the guy. This woman was trying to give me something precious, and I am sorry that my first reaction was not to take it in the spirit in which it was given.
What she said was so loaded that the thing I’d been trying to ignore all day came screaming out. Tears came to my eyes and I shuddered with grief, because she said, “I really like your style.” I like my style, too, and I know exactly where I got it. Even while I was singing, I knew I sounded just like her. Not in tone, mind you, but in the little flourishes in our musical personalities are quite similar from having spent so many years together in choirs. At first, she was my handbell conductor and sat next to me in adult choir. Then, when we moved to Portland, she was my conductor for a lot of years at her partner’s church. I live and breathe her style because I have been in love with it for longer than I can really think back.
I heard her before I saw her, which totally made me think she was some sort of supergenius… weird only because after I got to know her, I hardly noticed her voice at all. I don’t mean that in a bad way AT ALL. It’s just that our emotional relationship was so tight that I was never really a drooling fangirl, you know? She may have seemed like an idol to me for a little bit, but within a few months we were laughing and joking so much that her status as The Best Singer in the World™ faded into the background. It is always lovely to hear her sing, and I have a couple of mp3s of her somewhere so that I don’t forget… and never want to… but at the same time, her voice wasn’t what drew me in. It was her stories.
One of OUR funniest stories is that when I was a little kid, she said, “Let me explain something to you. I can’t date you because I am on one side of the desk and you are on the other.” At the time she was a middle school teacher, but not one of mine. At another school in the suburbs while I lived close to downtown. We spent years and years being as equal as we could be given the circumstances, and then I got my moment. She told me that she’d met someone, and that this person was 15 years older than her. At the time, she was only like, 28 or something, so I said, “Let me explain something to you…” And the laughter starts. “Susan is on one side of the desk, and you are on the other.” She was snorting she was laughing so hard and she said, “fuck you Leslie Lanagan!” I had scored a point and it was DELCIOUS. PRICELESS. ALl THAT SHIT. It made my cocky teenager’s brain sing. 🙂
After church I went to my friend Aaron’s and helped him move the last of his stuff into his apartment from some storage units. On the way back, I got lost in thought and just kept taking wrong turns on purpose just to turn the day over in my head as I drove and listened to the Weezer station on Pandora. For a few minutes, I let myself feel fucked up that when I sang today, her style came out of my mouth. That she had influenced me to the point that there wasn’t ever a time when she wouldn’t be there with me. I have learned to talk to that part of myself and try to heal it, because especially listening to recordings I get overly emotional- because I don’t want to sound like the best imitation of her. I want to be the best genuine me.
I just have to get back to the elements.