Wednesday, April 08, 2015

expectations will kick you every time

i am in need of a bit of wonder woman's fearlessness at the moment.

i put myself in a situation this evening which made me realize that i'm still feeling pretty wounded. i went with a friend to sing with a little countryside gospel choir. i went with high hopes to be energized and filled with happiness by soulful gospel music and i'm afraid that didn't happen. and to be honest, i didn't know that i expected that until it didn't happen. expectations can really ruin things.

it started with the usual round of shaking everyone's hand, which always wrong-foots me. it's an aspect of danish culture that i never really get used to or comfortable with. going around a room, shaking hands with strangers and saying your name is, in fact, a really good idea, but it makes me wildly uncomfortable, even after all these years. then, i ended up standing with my friend, who was standing with the sopranos. i'm an alto and was told, rather rudely, in my opinion, that i needed to go to the other side. we hadn't been singing in parts at the time and crossing the half circle, in front of everyone, after being rather summarily sent over there, felt like a statement on my singing ability. "get over there because i can't stand the sound of your voice next to me." it probably wasn't meant that way, but it definitely felt that way.  and it took me awhile to talk myself out of my prickly reaction. truthfully, i never fully shook it off, especially as it felt like the part of the circle i found myself in kept pushing me back and kept me a step out of it.

the songs we were singing didn't help. they were all unfamiliar, difficult arrangements and for the first one, we didn't have the music. i'm a music reader. i need to see the actual notes on the page, i don't do well just listening and humming along at first. and it wasn't like the others knew the songs either, they were new for all. and it wasn't the warm, familiar songs i had expected. see, there're those expectations again. they creep in, even when you don't even know they're there, spoiling the experience.

the second song should have been familiar (happy day), but it was a new arrangement that was very different and difficult. at least we had the music to look at, but with three parts - soprano, alto and tenor, and varying ability of those there to follow the sheet music, i felt bewildered at times, thinking i was the only one in the room reading the actual notes on the page and that all of the others were in on this alternative method of reading music that i didn't know about. leaving me once again feeling vulnerable and slightly rejected.

not what i wanted to feel at the gospel choir.

i wanted to enter a room of people who were open and warm, or who had been opened up and warmed through by the familiar, energizing gospel music of my cultural background (this was a reasonable expectation, right?). because although i am a midwestern white girl, i do know gospel music when i hear it. and i wanted to give myself over to that energy and soul and warmth. and it simply wasn't there in a little parish house in denmark full of middle aged white women and a couple of men. and i am undoubtedly a middle-aged white woman as well, so maybe i shouldn't talk. but, i think you can take the gospel out of the US, but you can't retain the soul of it so far from its origins, especially if you have danish composers creating their disjointed version of it. one song was seriously like four very different genres smooshed together into one and it was downright disorienting. again, not the energy and comfort i was looking for.

tonight, i was reminded that i am wounded and it made me sad. and left me with that old familiar mid-atlantic feeling. i'll grant that i would be too white trying to sing with a real gospel choir in the states, but i can't even fit in with one here. so i'm left alone, somewhere in between.

i don't know why in these moments that i can't summon the energy to dive in and sing along on the happy day solo part, giving some of the energy to the room that i was wishing it would give to me. i don't know where my confidence has gone. and i don't really know how to recover it.

my inner wonder woman, where are you when i need you?

1 comment:

Feisty Harriet said...

Expectations are a bear, man.