You are sitting at your dining room table. It is noon on a Wednesday. Your phone rings. You glance over and see that it is your cousin calling. He doesn’t usually call. In fact, he has never called. You think, maybe his pocket is calling. Or maybe Mom borrowed his phone since, last you heard, hers was not working. You answer.
After a moment of greetings, he asks if you are busy this afternoon. He asks if you could come to a studio in Franklin and participate in a song he is working on.
You quickly think through the rest of your day. You scan the to-do list in your head. Homework, housework, a bit of reading and writing and laundry. Dinner.
You say yes, yes Cousin, I will come. You try and always say yes when family calls.
You know you’ve done some performing and recording in the past. But you are pretty sure he does not know that. You wonder why he thought of you.
You finish lunch and decide to get dressed. Not because recording a song requires you to be dressed. But because you assume (accurately, turns out) that everyone at the studio will be more put together than you and that it would be appropriate to give your appearance at least a small amount of effort. You even apply a tiny bit of make-up and take your hair out of it’s ponytail. You know the microphone cannot hear your make-up and hair. But you can.
You climb into your mini-van, check google maps and text that you are on your way.
You spend the drive trying to remember what it feels like to sing in front of people who are not your children. It dawns on you that you do not know what song it is. It dawns on you that you might be learning it moments before it is recorded. You question your ability and your sanity.
You find the studio easily, thank goodness, and park around back. You walk in the front door and ask the first person you see where to go. They do not know but they point towards the back. You follow their gaze and walk down a long hallway.
You find Cousin and hug him, then greet and introduce yourself to about ten other people. You wonder if they can tell you were in your pajamas an hour ago and that you drove here in a mini-van. Everyone is friendly and seem down to earth. You breathe a little easier. You know one of them and spend the next few minutes catching up. You look around, try and find your bearings, ask to see the music.
Cousin shows you the lyrics and shortly after that music starts playing and the girl you know steps in front of a fancy camera on a track. Four spotlights light up her half of the room. Her eyes are bright, her smile brighter, she dances around, lip-synching and laughing easily as she looks into the camera. She is dazzling.
The song ends but they start it again and film her a second time. When it is over Cousin turns to you and says, “So that’s it. That’s all you gotta do.” Your eyes become saucers.
Note to self- probably ask more questions next time someone asks you to come to a studio and be a part of a song they are working on. Questions like- what will I be doing once I get to the studio?
You thank your lucky stars you got dressed and quickly recover your composure. No problem. No problem at all. You’ve done this before. Its been a decade or more but you’ve been on camera. You’ve totally got this.
You step in front of the camera.
You’ve not got this.
The lights are so so bright. So many eyes watch you. You make a few jokes about the girl before you being a tough act to follow. You ask a few questions.
“We want to see your personality come through so just do whatever comes to you. Play to the camera. Maybe spin a few times. Flip your hair. Smile. And sing along during the chorus,” they say.
Your legs shake, your palms sweat, you adjust and readjust your shirt and your jacket and your hair. You stare into the camera. The music begins.
You find yourself a teensy bit less terrified with each passing moment. By the end of your eight minutes on camera you are feeling something akin to enjoyment. It has been so long since you have done anything like this. You had forgotten how much fun it can be.
The song ends a second time and you step back into the shadows. You wonder how badly you butchered your part.
Five more people follow your act. You know you need to go but you are mesmerized so instead you stand and watch and whisper with Cousin. The girl they film after you looks more petrified than you felt. This makes you feel a little better about your own performance.
Finally you decide you really must go. You tell your new acquaintances goodbye. Hug Cousin once more, retrace your steps and walk out the front door. Back into the sunlight. Back into the crisp November air.
You listen to your audiobook on the way home and laugh to yourself about what just transpired.
Home around four, you change your clothes and go for a run. The sun begins to set. You watch the sky as your feet rhythmically pound the pavement.
You make dinner. Bake zucchini bread with your children. Listen to Christmas music. You answer one million questions from your third child. Kiss your youngest’s face and smell her soft skin and fuzzy hair. You finish up homework with your second born. And laugh as your oldest dances around the kitchen.
You are back at your dining room table. Eating dinner with your family. It is seven p.m on a Wednesday.