Thursday, October 15, 2009

the only girl in the room

I got to sit at the front of a room full of people a few nights ago and hear my husband talk about how, when we were first married and living in an apartment that was essentially a converted garage, he wrote a song about me. I guess I've always known the song was about me, but somehow in the midst of everything else that was happening in our lives at the time, I don't really remember Brian writing it. He talked tonight about being down in our basement, in this little side room that was his music room, writing the song on his keyboard. He said he sat down and the song came really quickly. I had to fight back tears a little bit, because of what he said, because of the music, because I thought back to that first year of marriage and how hard it had been for so many reasons.

Being married to a musician - or probably any person whose primary career is in a creative field - has its ups and downs. The first time I met Brian, he told me he played piano. He was still in college at the time, and told me he was a music major. I was pretty skeptical. It sounded a bit like a pick-up line. A week or two later, I saw him perform. He was playing with Greenleaf at Casa Nueva in Athens, Ohio, back when the bar was just one long skinny room. I stood around a little round high-top table with some friends - the same friends I'd been with the night we met - while Brian played keyboards with the rock band, looking out at me and smiling a little bit. I felt like the only girl in the room, and discovered that it was quite intriguing to be with a performer. I found myself enjoying the fact that some of the other girls in the room might be thinking he was cute - he was (and still is) - but he was going home with me.

After that first night seeing Brian perform, I was pretty hooked. It's very thrilling to see the person you love up on stage. Even if they are just playing a bit of solo piano at a retirement center, you kind of feel like you're with someone famous. There's always been a tiny part of me that wonders what it would be like if Brian really did get famous - or even if one of his songs got picked up for a movie or something. Would I stop worrying about the bill while standing in the grocery store line? Would it change us completely or would we still be the same? Would I get jealous of him or his fans or his being away? I completely believe he's got the talent to do it - his music just needs to get in the right hands. I know it's a dream of Brian's, so I want him to succeed with this career, I really do - but there is a little part of me that still gets apprehensive when he starts talking about touring or being out on the road. I like our stable little life, our little routine every night, our little messy house with our little messy girl in it, and all of that requires both of us to be here.

I say our life is stable - and it is - but in truth there is very little stability when half of your family income is made from performing. Gigs get canceled, students don't show up, venues don't always pay a fair rate. There are times when I am truly overwhelmed by it all - trying to help support Brian's dream while not being able to really plan anything because we can't know exactly what he'll bring in each month. The other really difficult thing is that no one else will champion your creativity - you really have to do it yourself, unless you want to pay someone else to do it. I wish we could afford for me to only work part-time, or even be home full-time, and help Brian manage the business. I could manage all of the communications and publicity, do the books and the invoices and the bills. Maybe we could rent that cool little storefront down on Haywood Road, operate the piano studio and a photo studio out of it. Here
I am, going back to my dreams of walking down Haywood Road every morning with my cup of coffee, turning around the "Open" sign in the doorway of our shop.

It's fun to dream about these things - and we do talk about them a lot. But, aside from feeling even more unstable financially, we'd probably end up driving each other crazy. And with one of us pursuing a creative career that doesn't fit into a steady, 9 to 5 job, the other one - me - has to be in a stable job that can be relied upon. One of us has to have the real retirement account, so we don't end up living in this house for the rest of our lives.

My girl is going to grow up in a very different way than I did, and sometimes that's a little hard for me. We live in the city instead of in the country, I work full-time and Dora is either cared for by her Dad or is in daycare, we live in a tiny little house on a tiny little lot, without much space for running around and exploring. My father was the managing editor of our local newspaper. He was only ever out late if something important was happening - an election, an emergency, a mechanical problem with one of the printing presses. There are times when I worry about what it will mean for Dora to have a father who comes home from work at 3 in the morning. Our time together as a family is very limited because of these scheduling issues.

I don't know how all of this will affect her. What I do know is that music is in her blood. She's already a dancer and singer and little musician. Later today we're going to a fundraiser where she'll get to see her daddy perform. Because he plays so many private events and concerts where I can't take a two-year-old, I'm really excited to see how she reacts to seeing him on stage. I think she's going to think it's really fantastic, even if sometimes Daddy isn't home when she goes to bed. I bet she's going to feel like the only girl in the room.


  1. Very sweet! I can relate to alot about this one, Carrie!

  2. You commented to me recently that you only wish you could give me that look of knowing. I'm giving you that look now. Somehow, it will all work out.

  3. Thank you both so much. I know you both can relate to this.

    You're right, Emily - it will all work out somehow. Have faith, right?