July 1, 2018

the heart of a bird ii

Eighteen years ago, I asked because I was needy.  I needed specialness, and was drawn to her concerts over and over again because something as simple as a smile or a "hey" from her, or being given the peace sign so that others around me could see I knew her, acted as a strong, pure hit of the specialness drug.  I asked compulsively.

Twice she said yes, and a third time she was the one who asked me.  I've had few moments of joy in my life more intoxicating.  These stand out.  They were gusts of wind beneath sparrow wings.

There is something about our voices, you see.  The timbres meld.  In those moments, I know every nuance of what she is about to do with a word or line, a second before she does it, and I match.  It's making music.  Everything else in the room disappears.

Eighteen years ago, making music was a hit of a drug.  Others saw me and she allowed me and I drank in specialness, the comments from other audience members and the hug she always gave me afterward.  The needy one was the chosen one and her "yes" was one night of sweet relief from the longing.

I paid dearly afterward.  Always a crash the following day, a return to the ground.  Wings clipped.

Eighteen years later, at a cafe last night, I was able to ask precisely because I am less needy.  I felt something shift.  During her first set, I sang along to every word, but I didn't revert to that girl in her early twenties whose heart felt it would burst out of her chest.

The defenses had lived in my head for years ... the certainty that the times I had asked before annoyed her ... the excessive number of her concerts I had attended to get a hit, tantamount to public, permissible stalking ... belief that she tolerated my presence out of pity ... recalling how I couldn't seem to make my feet move me away from her and toward my car after shows ... fear that asking to sing one more time would earn me rejection and unbearable disapproval directly proportionate to the intense joy.  Defenses.

I felt something shift.

The pangs of jealousy when watching her talk to other people, sit with them at dinner and converse, have given way to gratitude that she has so many people in her life who love her and watch over her as she travels.

Movement toward clarity.  Gratitude unsullied by neediness.  She's human.  We are two separate people.  I can spread my sparrow wings now.  Those lies that protected me all those years fell away.  They were not real.

I almost died a year ago, but I'm not dead, and none of us is ever sure we'll get another chance.  I wanted to make music with her.

I asked Kate during intermission, and it hadn't occurred to her that I might want to, and she said "yes" and thought it was a great idea.

There is something about our voices, you see.  The timbres meld.  We shared a microphone and I sang harmony on a song I had wanted for two decades to sing with her.  We made music.  Everything else in the room disappeared.

Making music is not a hit of specialness.  It is the stuff of humans and singing birds, as real as the earth and the air and the flight of the little sparrow.

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