I was feeling kind of lonerish. A good, dear friend of ours was having a party that weekend– and I do mean, the whole weekend. The invitation was for:
Saturday evening, woodfired pizzas 5 PM til whenever, bring sides, toppings, instruments, whatnot. Then the lamb would get put into the pit at midnight to roast until Sunday afternoon. Sunday morning, breakfast at 10. Then floating the river from noon til whenever, then the unpitting of the lamb and festivities Sunday evening, bring sides, etc.
I mean, that’s quite the invitation.
Saturday was errands and then river time so Josh could crawfish-gather for the party.
Saturday night, our plan was I would take Alden home when he needed to go, and Josh would stay til the wee hours.
I was more or less ready to go at 10-ish, when Alden was REALLY ready to go– and that was fine, but I will say that I was kinda not up for party #2 on Sunday.
Floating was — well, floating is always fun, but Josh and I were kinda crosswise, and I just felt ready for some home time down time, even, maybe, alone time?
I was really leaning toward not going. Skipping it. Laying low. I was tired of feeling required. Feeling resentful about anyone asking me to do anything— make me a peanut butter and jelly sandwich/attend a meeting Tuesday evening/ play a gig next weekend/come to the party tonight.
I don’t remember how exactly– what jedi mind trick Josh used to get me to go. He must have told me there’d be jamming, because that is the surest way to get me to go. (It’s what got me to the barbecue where Josh and I kinda met… but that’s another story.)
So we biked over to the party, me with my fiddle along for the ride, feeling half-grumpy, but feeling silly about it as I greeted friends and neighbors I really DON’T see often enough.
And Bob was there. Bob the accordion player, who I had seen playing music a few times at the Farmers’ Market, and I’d heard him playing with a swing group on a local radio show a couple of times. He was sitting to the side, softly (for an accordion) playing tunes. And I had been wanting to play with him, so I headed over and just asked if he’d mind if I played a few tunes with him.
That, right there, is a very challenging, tender, complicated moment in music… when someone asks to play with you… You don’t know them. Are they any good? Will you and they share a common language? Are they a nice person? Do they know how to be sensitive, to listen, to lead a song, to communicate? You don’t know any of that… To Bob, I was just some gal with a fiddle.
But I realized soon that Bob has the heart of a teacher (and was one, in fact, before he retired.) He said sure, and off we went. The first few tunes were a bit tentative as we kind of found out what the other could do… and as we went on we played trickier tunes, traded solos more, shared and passed lines back and forth, sang a bit, and generally had an amazing time. It was one of those nights. I have no idea how long we played. Two, three, four hours? Josh and Alden left on bikes at some point, and Bob and I kept playing into the dark. A young girl with a blues voice joined us for a while and her boyfriend played a little guitar, but for me, the magic was between me and Bob and my fiddle and his accordion.
This all was last summer. I’ve seen Bob once since then — he was onstage at a local brewery playing with a new band– we exchanged enthusiastic smiles, but, well, he was onstage and we didn’t chat. My bet is that we’ll play together again one of these days.
When I lay in bed that night after the party, with the sounds of the music still swirling my ears, I thought about the friends who had said, after we stopped, “I just wanted to listen to you guys all night!” “That was so perfect!”– things like that. I thought about that… and I thought about the fact that the hours of playing had felt to me like a magic carpet ride. Maybe that’s it, I thought to myself, before I went to sleep. What if the thing I need to do is the thing that feels… easy. Beyond easy.
I almost didn’t go. I resisted and grumped about all the things I had to do and then I went, and it was like flying.
Long. Hard. Easy.