This morning I am off to guitar camp for the 5th year. When I first went in 2005, I’d been playing guitar for all of 6 months, I couldn’t strum up (only down), and looking back, it’s really rather ridiculous that I went. It was like starting a new junior high all over again, except that I was 32; sadly, there was little difference in the clarity of my skin despite the intervening 2 decades. The insecurity was the same, too, only more pathetic because I had supposed myself beyond that.
When I got there, everyone seemed to know everyone else, and they were speaking Guitarese, a language I had only begun to study. They compared guitars and talked about their latest acquisitions as I sat alone to the side, barely able to follow the conversation and wondering why on earth anyone would need more than one guitar. I didn’t know all the brand names they were discussing; my guitar was a $99 Walmart special, and I was sure everyone knew and secretly mocked me. I was clearly a poser, and after the first morning of lessons that were so far over my head they might as well have been given on the moon, I headed out for a walk near the ocean to clear my head.
I ended up on the beach, though not quite in the manner I’d intended. It had been rainy, as is Northern California’s wont in January, and I slipped down the majority of the path down the hill, sliding part of the way on my keister, and ultimately landing with a thump on the sandy beach below, whence I limped towards the water, sat next to a log, and had myself a minor meltdown. What had I been thinking, me and my 3 chords and one-way strum, traveling to another state to play guitar, like I was a real guitarist or something? I didn’t belong there, and I was just kidding myself. I wasn’t ready to play in front of people, like I’d planned; but I knew if I didn’t do it, I’d kick myself forever after.
Fortunately, it got better the second day, and by the time Monday morning came, I was sorry it was over so quickly.
Since then, a lot has changed. Not all good, but not all bad, either. Now, I know everyone and have someone to eat lunch with. I met one of my dearest friends in the world at camp, and now she lives in my town. I not only perform at the open no-mic, but I emcee one of the two nights. I can strum up. And I have a few more than one guitar. I’m an old-timer now, and I like that.
After much self-debate, I’m taking Stella to camp, despite the fact that her case weighs a metric ton, and am looking forward to 3 days of sisterhood, songs, and being fed excellent food that I don’t have to cook. (The latter of which is really just like home—thanks, Honey!)
In past years, I would’ve spent the last few weeks frantically practicing the songs I intended to perform, but circumstances and time precluded that. I’m not too worried, which is a change of pace. I’ll be performing the only song I wrote last year, and the Beatles’ “Blackbird.” I’m pretty pleased with myself that I can play it, as it’s a fingerstyle piece, and more complicated than most of the things I play (and all of the things I write). I hope my guitar guru is proud of me.
Scott and I were discussing the song, because he’s had the opportunity to hear it at least a bajillion times in the last few months as I’ve worked on it. He wondered about the lyric “You were only waiting for this moment to arrive,” and whether it was “your” arrival, or the moment’s, that Paul was talking about. It’s just one of many great musical mysteries. I’ll let you discuss it amongst yourselves as you listen to the original. I’ve got a plane to catch.