"Occasionally in life there are those moments of unutterable fulfillment which cannot be completely explained by those symbols called words. Their meanings can only be articulated by the inaudible language of the heart.”
-Martin Luther King, Jr.
My, oh my. I'm back from my road trip and have so very much to say. And yet, as a writer of songs, poems, blogs, etc., I'm struggling to find the words to describe the experiences and value of this trip in my life. Funny. Dear little words, where are you when I need you?
I'll start by saying that I experienced a number of moments while on the road that not only solidified my dream of being a singer-songwriter, but also solidified the woman I have become. The idea of getting in a car and traveling alone may seem easy as cake to some folks. For me, it was a test of courage. I have often depended on someone being beside me to do things in my life, be it a road trip, climbing a mountain, or buying a car. Although I may have argued that I like to share experiences with others, I think there was something deeper I was masking--a fear that I couldn't enjoy things or "do" things by myself. I'm not making the argument that people are weak if they can't do things by themselves--I know now more than ever, reaching out to others is a sign of strength and vital in life. What I am saying, for me, is that I needed to find a sense of comfort and strength in being alone. And I did. I came out having uncovered a new and much healthier relationship with myself than I have ever had. And that is, by far, the greatest gift I gained from my trip. Woman empowered? Indeed, yes.
So, there were moments. Many, many moments that will resonate within me for my lifetime. Last night, while at an open mic, my friend Mal asked me what was the best experience I had while on the road. It's funny, because I really struggled with this question. Narrowing it down to one thing almost minimizes the impact of this trip on my life. But I'll blog today about my response to this question. And my next blog will be a dip into my journal from the road, revealing in less depth the many awesome little moments that made up my trip.
Sitting next to Mal, at a picnic table with friends at the Barking Spider, on a warm, humid Tuesday night in Cleveland, I shared what was the best experience from my trip.
My favorite experience was saving a little bird. And it was. But I haven't really got the words to explain why this was it for me. So I'll share my other favorite moment. It occurred on the last night of my trip.
I did the open mic at Eddie's Attic on the Monday before I left. It was an intense evening, because I went in with the expectation that I had to be a finalist again (having already been one the summer before, it would have been a major let-down if I wasn't.) It's good to set some expectations for yourself, but when I realized I was sharing the night with some VERY talented people, I got myself worked up into a bit of a tizzy. And this kind of had me losing perspective throughout the night. Because it's not about winning, it's about the love of the game. Right? Sure. But, I'm a Capricorn, and winning is a damn important thing for me. And I knew after one band played that I wouldn't win for the night (cause they had it DOWN), but I still needed to play one more song. I just felt that need tugging in my gut. And that need meant I needed to be one of the three finalists. At the end of the evening, after Eddie tugged at my heart-strings a bit by calling the first two finalists, I felt myself resign. Despite the compelling urge to play my third song, I convinced myself that I made the most of the night and that was that. Then Eddie said, "and now, our last finalist, from Cleve"
(At this point, I exhaled and said, "holy shit.")
"land, Ohio, Ms. Maura Rogers. Come on up honey. And see that coffee mug at the end of the bar? It's mine. And it's got whiskey in it. Why don't you take a shot of that whiskey, honey."
And I did. I took a shot of Eddie's whiskey, grabbed my guitar and got up on stage to perform a third song. I sang "Damn Angels" and it felt damn amazing.
I knew I did what I was meant to do that night.
And one would think this was the moment. But it wasn't. This is simply what led up to the best moment of my trip.
After completing the song and selling CD's and giving out my info. and talking with Eddie about coming back to book a show, I was high on life and walking out to leave when a woman at the bar gently grabbed my arm.
"Excuse me, Mam. I need to talk to you for a moment. I wasn't here for your first two songs. But I was here for the finalists. And I just needed to tell you that after the day I had, the song you just sang was exactly what I needed."
Me, not really being at ease with compliments, said genuinely, "thank you. I'm glad you liked the song" and attempted to leave. But she held on to my arm gently.
"No, honey. I don't know if you know what you do. So I'm telling you. Thank you for doing what you do."
And this. This moment. This exchange with a complete stranger. This brief, but vital connection made possible only through sharing my music, is and will remain, my most favorite moment from my trip. This is why I'm doing this. Sure, I write music to entertain people. But really, I write because I want to move people. And this stranger reminded me that I am doing so.