Tonight I am leaving.
I've packed my bags and shown Chillymama the homeschool schedule. I've got my passport and my in-flight knitting project. Friends I am leaving. For seven (S-E-V-E-N) whole, glorious days I'll be gone.
Because I belong to this cult. A large group of barbershop singing and performing women. And this week is our annual international contest. Ok, it's not really a cult but it's kinda cult-like considering the amount of personal devotion I have to this decidedly splinter group hobby.
I was thinking about it this week, as I was packing and itemizing my lists and keeping my voice warm. My chorus is my first, and longest commitment. I auditioned and joined this group in 1993. I was a mere 23-years-old, a pup! For almost 15 years rehearsals have taken place weekly, on the same night at various locations. The membership of the group has waxed and waned but the core stays steady. We sing and work and rehearse on weekends devoting money and travel time and sleep. Cult? Maybe. Chillymama sometimes calls herself a barbershop widow. She's not completely wrong.
And here's the kicker: I've been involved for 15 years minus some downtime to get kinda married and birth and nurse babies. This is longer than I've known my partner or children or cats - and I'm not considered along time member. Heavens no. That honor goes to the 50 year members. At 15, I'm just a babe in the woods with grand aspirations toward the 50 year mark. Although this goal could prove tricky as Chillymama's schedule is going to change to evenings and I'm not sure about rehearsals and childcare with my commute. Ah, yes I'm so wacky devoted that I commute for this hobby (just like about half of the other members - think: cult). But I can't think about this scheduling dilemma right now - I've got to concentrate on the upcoming singing.
Truthfully, it's all about the singing. There is nothing, nothing, like singing in harmony with 100 other women. The music gets into your body and raises the gooseflesh and just erupts from within. It is the best kind of therapy ever. It is like seeing the face of God smiling. It makes me calm, revives my soul and renews my spirit. Sure it's competitive singing but it's not really about the winning - it's about perfecting the art. Singing really well means you make it to the international level. Singing really, really well means you make it from the International Semi-Finals to the Finals. And friends, my chorus sings really, really, really well. So well, in fact that we're competing this year. It's glorious. The music, the women, the make-up, the sequins, the jazz hands - all of it.
So I'm going. Off for a week with my cult, er...chorus. And I don't regret a minute of my leaving or my preparations to leave.
If you're interested in the show you can watch the contest live, via the free webcast. Here's the direct link: http://www.sweetadelineintl.org/webcast.cfm.
My chorus is contestant #20 in the Semi-Finals, performing at 3:44 Mountain Time. Check it out and see if you can find me. I'll be the fabulous redhead in the front row.
For now, I'm leaving - no email, no cell-phone, no day to day general stuff. Just one big musical party. I'm going.