Some Words on Musicians in Honor of Your Birthday

I’ve been working for the past month on a long piece about being a musician and romantic relationships with fellow musicians. In honor of my lovely friend Taylor’s birthday, I’m going to share a draft chunk of the longer piece here. I’m saving the rest and a more polished version of the piece for someone else’s blog, so stay tuned for requests for editors.

In my head, Madison is one of the best people on Earth. She is hip, wise, witty, confident and kind. She’s from the South, she’s fun, welcoming and gives some of the best hugs in the world. When we hang out, I always wonder “Why me? What have I done to deserve the friendship of such a cool person?” But I don’t have to do anything, because she is just so fucking nice.

Because she’s so welcoming and because she loves folk music, we end up going drinking with some of the musicians who come to our small college town. She’ll go up to them after a show, invite them to come with us to the town’s only bar. I come along and sometimes bring a friend, and there we are, 2 or 3 twenty-two year old girls with a group of men in their late 20s and 30s, real men. We drink whiskey and talk about music, where we’re from and whatever else comes up. I keep one eye out for acquaintances. I always hope they’ll see me with these bearded men, and be impressed. I can never resist a good story.

Madison leads up the charge and I follow in close suit. The conversations are light, flirtatious and fun. I’m in bed by midnight on those nights, so the bands can hit the road the next morning. I walk home alone across the square, glowing and excited to tell my roommate what just transpired.

It’s not as though I don’t want to have sex with the musicians who come through town. It’s just that I know better than to even try. I was 18 and at a music festival jamming the first time I got hit on by a married man (that I know of). It was the next morning before I realized that the ring on his left hand was most certainly a wedding band. Nothing happened, but I won’t forget that sick feeling I felt in the pit of my stomach as I walked past his truck and saw the car seat in the back. I felt ashamed, guilty and unclean, even though the only thing I’d done was harmlessly flirt with a handsome guitar player.

Six years later, I see him on stage at Red Rocks. Time and maturity have turned guilt and shame into a good story.

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