It was my first folk festival, my first time sleeping in a tent (and last), and the first time I heard Gillian Welch and David Rawlings. I remember laying in the grass on that hill and jumping up when I heard them sing these words: “I will know my savior, I will come to him, by the mark where the nails have been.” They were singing in harmony, but it was hard to pick out which was the melody. It was as if the melody was just a jugglers clubs they passed between themselves. I was enamored from that moment on. They are so in sync. They blend so well when they need to, but otherwise they complement each other in such a way that neither is complete without the other. It seems magical but I think it’s just love. They share love and turn it into music.
Amy and I used to do that – its why we went to the festival. We had been playing and singing together practically since we met. As one of the only women any of us knew that played the guitar, I often accompanied anyone who want to sing a popular song instead of a show tune. Amy loved Harry Chapin and 70s folk music. She also loved contemporary artists like Ani DiFranco and Dar Williams. Our first “gig” was at a talent show on campus where we performed “when I was a boy” by Dar Williams. I had transferred away from that school and had to fly back to play it. I didn’t know it at the time, but I had fallen in love with her and was ready to do anything for her (she needed an accompanist…). She had a voice so crystal clear and beautiful, it filled any room with light (neighbors would ask “who’s singing” and insist she NOT stop).
That voice and her initial “I don’t give a fuck who you are…” attitude drew me in – she was a challenge – I had to prove that I was worthy of her time. So, when she graduated and agreed to move in with me in Boston, I was elated. I had just gotten a job with a small software company that shared office space with the venerable folk venue Club Passim. They have an open mic every week and once Amy moved to Boston, we went every week, even if we weren’t signing up to play. I like the unspoken social agreement that is open mic. No matter who you are or what you sound like, we all agree to listen to your 15 minutes on stage, so that we may have our own. Meanwhile, at home, Amy and I were growing closer and eventually there was a kiss (awkward as it was) and eventually we spent every night in the same bed (how our third roommate didn’t catch on, I don’t know…) and then we got our own apartment but tried to say on the down-low and we decided that was too much, so we moved again and in with another friend. Amy had told her parents about us by now, but I didn’t tell mine, and because she came to our house for holidays etc, it was awkward. My family now knows I had a relationship with a woman around this time of my life but they can’t seem to figure out who…
On the hill at Falcon Ridge that day, someone asked “if you could have a super power, what would it be?” My answer was spontaneous combustion. I wanted to be able to explode myself into millions of particles and not worry how/if they ever went back together. In the end, that is what happened with Amy and I – I exploded it and it never went back together.
I just hung up the print I bought at the market at that festival. A bright gold-leafed sun with intricate detail.
It is rising, as am I.