S(ixteen)(stacey)(trawberry wine)(unshine)

When I was sixteen I distinctly remember not having one single clue as to what it was I wanted to do with my life. I had answers readily available for when anybody asked me (by then I was suffering through my biology class and had just dropped out of health occupations club so my fly by night dream of being an anesthesiologist was over), but in all actuality I had no clue.  I was a cheerleader and hung out a lot with the other girls that I cheered with, we were friends to some extent but I never really cared much about popularity or the things that keep you popular. I guess I was somewhat of the funny one of the group. Never had any drama with anyone and always kept people laughing. I was quite literally floating through life. I remember we were painting signs for a game in the lobby of the gym when C.C. started singing Deana Carter’s “Strawberry Wine”.  Having only two years prior become the racial minority in my school/neighborhood I was barely used to white people and I was certainly not acquainted with country music.  A lot of the girls started singing along and I made sort of a mental note to look up the song later. When I got home I listened and was instantly hooked.  I loved the story telling, country music read like a journal entry and it was so simple and honest, unpretentious; I suppose I have the most popular girl in school to thank for one of my life’s true loves. It didn’t help me figure out a career, per say, but it did awaken my curiosity for people’s stories; and that is 100% why I do what I do.

Last week I was at dinner at member of the cohort’s apartment.  We were listening to music and sitting around and I was just singing along with the track when Stacey, another classmate, complimented me on my voice calling it “beautiful.”  I thanked her for her words, and I have to say I took them to heart.  In that moment I went back to sixteen.  High school musical and I was trying out to make the cast and I sang Jennifer Holliday’s “And I am telling you (I’m not going).”  Talk about ambitious…I managed through the audition and ended up getting cast as “Effie” in the musical, though I didn’t sing that song.  I remember being absolutely terrified and feeling completely uncomfortable in the spotlight.  When Stacey commented, I felt like I was in the spotlight again, like I was found out.  Of course, I am not the person I was at sixteen, so even though I was right there back on stage I didn’t panic, I just kept singing. I didn’t mind (so much) that anyone heard me.  Only 11 years to be okay with being heard. I’ll take a small victory where I can get it.

Sidebar: Stacey totally reminds me of Luna Lovegood. I told her this and quite naturally she was not sure how to take it, and wondered if it was a compliment or not. I meant it in the highest of compliments.  I think Luna was the purest and most beautiful character in the HP novels.  I think we all crave the strength she has; so unafraid to be herself in a world who tries to tell her she’s all-wrong.  There’s so much grace and eloquence in her quirks.  I feel like Luna is luminous.  That whole shining your light letting others know its okay to shine their’s thing. She’s got that going for her. It doesn’t hurt to receive a compliment from someone who reminds you of someone that lets their light shine.

I am not being presumptuous when I say that she and I will be great friends one day.  It is humorous to me that I am comfortable now speaking truths that I know yet have no empirical evidence yet.  My knowledge comes from elsewhere though.  And even though I’m likely going to share this post with her, and I have not told her “the story” I know she will understand.

I thought earlier, if everything in this life goes to hell, I’m moving to Nashville and becoming a country music singer.  Writing stories that read like Strawberry Wine and open up a sixteen year old cheerleader’s world.  Letting my hair be completely wild and big, head hung low over my six-string, sitting in the grass in the park singing for free as long as the good Lord blesses me with the instrument.  That would be the ultimate.  And maybe one day I will do that.  Maybe one summer, maybe next summer, I will do that.  Right now I get chills just thinking about it.  Is that what a dream is supposed to do?  Getting my next degree gives me chills. Nothing like music though.  I don’t think that academia will ever compare to playing music lol.  Some things are just for you.  That would be one of those things.  there are a few other things I think I would like to do just for me.  Dance lessons are one.  Spending a month in Italy is another.  Life on the horizon is pretty exciting.

Sidebar pt. deux: even though to my family I have been “Sunshine” since I was a baby, I’ve been seeing things a little bit differently lately.  I woke up one day and read it “Sun, Shine”.  I took it as a lesson.  I took it as my grandmother (who gave me the nickname) giving me eternal permission, and encouragement to shine as the sun does.  That makes me smile. Whether or not it was her intention, sometimes accidents are the best blessings.

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