Friday, October 3, 2014

Let's skip ahead a bit to just after college. I had graduated, finished up an internship, and upon not finding a job completed another internship over summer and had moved home while I searched for a job. It was a frustrating time in my young adult life. I hadn't planned to move back to Houston, and certain hadn't planned to live with my parents after college. And yet, that's where I found myself. It was hard, but looking back, I can say it was the best thing for us all.

However, at the time, I needed some space and I needed to do something. Nashville Star, a reality show that was for all intents and purposes American Idol with a twang, was holding auditions in Austin. I booked a hotel, drove myself up to the capitol, checked in the night before auditions, slept for a fistful of hours, woke up and 3am and walked myself down to auditions through downtown Austin. I met a couple of guys on the way who clearly had been lubricating their vocal chords with some liquid courage in preparation for the audition. I waited in line for hours. I met Katie and we became great friends for those few moments. We even past the time by taking selfies. This is all pre-iphone, mind you.

There was a tornado warning for the area which made things interesting, but eventually we made it inside. From there we were put in groups of 5 or 6 and eventually ushered into a small room with a panel of what I assume were interns or some lower level don't start out in front of the actual judges. You have to work your way to that. One at a time we were to step forward, tell them our name and what song we were singing. We then had 30 seconds to sing. We were allowed to play guitar as well.

I spent weeks deciding what song to sing. The first couple of crooners sang and then it was my turn. I stepped forward and played and sang. The "judges" then asked me to sing it again without the guitar. I paused, maybe too long. I was honestly processing the fact that it had to be a good sign if they wanted to hear it twice. But there was one more girl after me and they kept her. They were only keeping one from each group, if any. A couple of the others from the room encouraged me as we left, assuring me that they should have kept me. I was flattered and wished they had, but the girl they kept was good.

On my way back to the hotel to get my car and head home, one of my new friends from the line journey offered to give me a ride back to my car. Y'all, I don't know what possessed me to get in the car with this guy I'd only known for a few hours and whom was tipsy at 5am, but I did. He told me about his night, which was not like any night I've ever had or want to have, he told me he thought the judges were idiots because clearly he and I both should be on the show, and he dropped me off at my hotel and I haven't seen him, or Katie, since. But for a day, we were buds.

I think about that day often. It was the first risk I think I'd ever taken. It was my first adventure on my own. I was nervous but I loved it. I loved knowing I could go somewhere, I could arrange the details of something like that without my parents. It was small, easy, but it was new to me. I loved spending an entire day with like-minded people, singing, dreaming, sharing stories. I did it all again a couple of years later when I auditioned for The Voice. Both experiences were great but Nashville Star was one of those moments, where you suddenly realize you can do more than you give yourself credit for. The world, as scary as it can be, really isn't that vast.

I don't listen to country much anymore, mostly because country doesn't exist these days (it's all pop). Still, country music provided the soundtrack for so much of my life and this particular memory is accompanied by "Suds in The Bucket" by Sara Evans.

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