There is a small arts centre in the town I live in that hosts a monthly jazz session and a yearly jazz festival. A lot of musicians and artists live here too and they are regularly joined by a steady stream of newly arrived beard-wearing, veg-spiralising hipsters and yoga-mamas, drawn here by the good connections to Town (90 minutes direct to Paddington) and the local Steiner schools. It’s a place full of contradictions, the mill and factory working locals rubbing shoulders with those desperate to find a studio space to fill the time whilst Octavia is playing in the sandpit at kindergarten. I have lived here since my first marriage to a fitter in my late teens. It is quirky, creative and a bit ornery and I like it.
Recently though I have fallen out of love with it. It seemed too small to manage my recent marriage breakdown and the subsequent effects on my business and personal life with any elegance. I felt broken, and outed, and shamed and so judged, possibly mostly by myself actually but it still felt very raw. Too raw to go out much. Too raw to be seen and have questions asked. Too raw to be pitied or blamed.
This afternoon I took myself along to the jazz jam, invited both by a drummer friend of my son and a lovely trumpet playing woman who I know has had her own battles with performance anxiety inspite of her obvious ability. I procrastinated a great deal over this only really making the decision to head down there and sing after getting all of my music out and looking, really looking at what I might be able to get away with easily. My eye was drawn to a piece by Jobim – How insensitive – and I realised that this song held a charge for me that if I was brave enough to do it might help me exorcise some demons and move on, elegantly, bravely and with some style. That was and is important to me.
I was met with such warmth and acceptance. I watched myself set up the piece, connecting to the keyboard player, agreeing tempo and key signature (original naturally) and the format and dynamics. Whilst singing I noted my command of the microphone, of the band, of the audience and of my delivery and whilst my voice was rusty my performance was powerful and I knew it. I loved my audience, I reached into their hearts and asked them to feel as I did, see what I saw, to come with me into my world for a moment. As we reached the last lines and I sang with honesty and integrity the words “What can you do, when a love affair is over? It’s over, it’s over, over …” I hit the final note ( a flattened fifth) and let it hang there redolent with loss, acceptance and gratitude.
It’s done, it’s over, now everyone knows and I am OK with that.