Fair warning: I slept about 4.5 hours last night, and I’m still buzzing this morning. (As a person who can easily sleep 9+ hours at a clip, this is highly unusual.)
It could be the six cups of coffee I drank yesterday (the latter 2 of which were at about 8:00 pm). That definitely had something to do with it.
But it could also be the pure adrenaline that is still coursing through my veins after the most interesting part of my night out last night.
Let me begin at the beginning.
As a matter of course, Bobby and I decided that yesterday needed to be a designated fun day. After a hilarious and delicious brunch out, followed by some inspired house cleaning for me and some dutiful work for him, we dedicated the rest of our Saturday to pure kid-like enjoyment. He broke out a set of Legos that he bought weeks ago and hadn’t had time to use. I turned on our Wii and played the only game I ever actually play — Super Mario Brothers, old-school 2-D style. We were soon joined by our friend and neighbor, Liz, who helped Bobby build his Lego city, and then later by her boyfriend, Nick, who laughed with me as Bobby and Liz played with said Lego city with reckless abandon.
Everyone was drinking. I was (obviously) not.
After an initial moment of discomfort when I realized that I had only really ever indulged in this kind of child-like fun with beer in hand, I adjusted, and life went on. We all had an incredible time.
Oh, and coffee. I had more coffee.
The coffee was to prepare me for the next part of our night’s plans — meeting up with some of our friends at a bar for celebratory birthday drinks.
That part was actually really easy. I drank a lot of club soda. The bartender didn’t even charge me.
We brought Liz and Nick and met up with some other friends I hadn’t seen in too long. It was fabulous. At no point was I upset that I wasn’t drinking. In fact, it was pretty nice to hit 12 o’clock and A) not be tired, B) not be sick, and/or C) not be cranky. (Cranky might be putting it nicely, depending on the beer to liquor ratio.)
And what is the only way to top off a night of drinking and fun for a birthday girl who loves to sing?
You guessed it.
The bar was a dive. It was a 5-am bar, if that gives you any indication. It was crowded, kind of smelly, and loud.
Really, really loud.
When we walked in, a woman was screeching Whitney Houston while giving the visual performance of her life. I tried to slip by, and she sang in my face.
This was not looking good.
If there is anything I personally hate more than singing in front of people, it’s listening to other people sing badly. And loudly.
Don’t get me wrong — I love to sing. I sing all the time. At home, at school, on my commute… but I sing quietly, little snippets, to myself.
Bobby and Bear and my parents, mostly, are privy to the slightly more extensive version of my personal singing. But that’s about it.
I used to sing with reckless abandon. When I was a young- and mid-teen, I took voice lessons. I sang in musicals. I recorded myself in the bathroom (for the acoustics, obviously) and made holiday mix tapes.
Then, when I was about 16, I was required to perform at a voice recital. I had been feeling nervous all day. (Really, all week.) Once I entered the venue, I started to feel some serious anxiety. I was having trouble breathing. My mouth was insanely dry. My heart was pounding. My hands were shaking.
When I got up to the stage, I had a full blown panic attack. I tried to sing, but at one point I started getting sharp pains in my chest and I completely forgot the lyrics. I managed to finish out the song and slinked off the stage, completely humiliated.
That day, I stopped singing.
No way was I going through that again. Not worth it, I told myself. Let this one go.
So flash forward about 15 years to last night. I’m standing in this bar full of drunk people singing really loud, really bad karaoke, and I’m not sure I can stand it.
And then suddenly, I look at Bobby.
“I’m singing,” I said.
“Are you serious?” he asked.
“Hell yes,” I replied with determination. “If I have to listen to them, then they’re going to have to listen to me.”
Really, I couldn’t possibly do much worse than what was happening anyway. It gave me a strange sense of confidence.
I found my song in the thick, worn book. It was a classic. I had spent hours and hours as a kid listening to this cassette tape. I had spent hours and hours as a teen singing my angst out to these lyrics that I really couldn’t relate to, but could understand the emotion behind.
Bobby looked at me. “Oh, no. Not that one. Seriously?”
“Yup,” I said, grinning.
“Ok.” He sighed. “But be careful with the mic. This sound system is awful.”
“Yeah.” I chuckled. “I got that.”
Another hour passed, and I was starting to think I wouldn’t make it to my song. The noises were ear splitting. I was seriously getting a headache.
This was my first stone-cold-sober karaoke night, and I hated it. I was definitely only hanging in there for the birthday girl.
And then I heard it.
“Roxy? Is there a Roxy here?”
Hit it, girl.
The music began to play. I took a deep breath.
“I. Want. You to know.
That I’m. Hap-py. For you.
I. Want. Nothing but.
The best. For. You both.”
And then I opened the flood gates.
I sang that song like I was 12 years old in my bathroom mirror. I did the throaty parts, I did the belting parts, I did the vocalizations at the instrumental break. I even did some performance moves to go along with it.
And my god, I fucking nailed it.
And do you know how I know I nailed it?
Because I was straight-up sober. And I could hear it.
Also, because Bobby was standing there looking completely shocked and the birthday girl was going crazy on the side lines.
And because for the first time all night, no one sang along. Not after the first chorus. People were actually listening, instead of trying to drown me out.
I left the mic stand demurely and sat back down, but my hands were shaking. I couldn’t believe it. I really couldn’t believe it.
This was a first. And not a small one.
I swear I’m not trying to exaggerate this sober-challenge experience. I’m not leaving out the crappy parts to highlight the awesome parts.
It’s just full of really freaking awesome parts.
I’m becoming myself again. I’m rediscovering me.
And you know what?
I really like her.