This was another big weekend. The show choir vocal jazz state finals took place yesterday. There are about 30 kids in the high school group, between the singer performers and the instrumentalists in the accompanying ensemble. T. plays the piano for the ensemble - 'the pit band' they call it. Last year the group won the state championship for their division, but even more exciting for T. was the fact that they won the rhythm section award for the band. So they went in as defending champs this year.
On Friday the group had a big team dinner planned. Thursday night was the community performance, a kind of dress rehearsal for states. It included the two regional middle school show choirs (I play the piano for one of those). After that show, which packed the gym, a mom ran up to J. and me and asked if we could host the team dinner, because she had a last minute conflict. So we hosted the 30 plus kids for a big spaghetti pot luck the next night.
Observation one: Video games can be very social, even for a crowd. Someone brought a Wii, or some other video games, and there must have been 20-25 kids crammed into our TV room cheering and yelling and laughing. The temperature was about 15 degrees warmer in there than in the rest of the house.
The next day J. and I left home at 6:30am to drive the two hours up to Houlton, Maine for the competition. I mentioned to J. in the car how surprised I was that watching video games could be such an all-inclusive, boisterous party event. His astute observation was: "It sure beats watching Monopoly."
Observation two: Maine is so lacking in ethnic and social diversity that a show choir performing a show about the barrio in Washington Heights is extremely edgy and daring. Mount Desert Island High School (MDI) put on "The Heights." There were a few rap songs, and a lot of the rest of it was in Spanish, which you don't hear much in Maine. Being largely French Canadian by heritage, and bordering Quebec, French is the closest second language around here.
It was great show. They won second overall. I was particularly captivated by a song about the early morning. "Al amanecer" is a lovely way to say sunrise.
Observation three: Observation three came after we were on our way home. T. and her fellow instrumentalists won best rhythm section award again, which was the culmination of T's greatest musical recognition aspirations in high school. She'd been in tears about messing up one of her songs, and was probably in tears again when they won the award. I was exceedingly happy for her.
The group overall, alas, came in third. So they did not make the night finals (only the second or third time in 8 years that they weren't in the top two). That meant we could all go home.
I was weighted down by sadness last night. In an unexpected way, this weekend felt like the beginning of the end. Last show choir states. Last time we'll take part as parents. Last time I'll play as a volunteer? not sure yet about that part.
I'm not sure about anything, all of a sudden. I felt totally bereft last night. What the heck am I going to do now? All of my writing suddenly seemed frivolous and empty and pointless. The clarity of purpose in raising up our four children has been a buoy to my sense of meaning. Without that, I dread the feeling of emptiness that is already lurking backstage. I really don't know what will fill my life after T. goes on her way next fall. Sometimes that unknown has filled me with excitement and anticipation. Other times it fills me with panic and futility.
The air outdoors today was like a caress, with gentle birdsong in continuous accompaniment. A walk on a spring morning can be a balm to the soul.