I am sitting in a chair next to about 10 other women. We are all here to sing. The director of the choir brings up a piece of paper with various musical signs on it. He wants to assess our musical knowledge. I look at the paper, half of them I cannot recognize, for the other half I know the Turkish names, not the English ones. I feel slightly embarrassed and somewhat angry. After all this is a community choir, there is no audition, no musical knowledge requirement. People left and right tell the answers, for some of the signs I notice the same puzzled look in some of their faces as in mine. The irony is that, I'm a music ignorant. Even though I have been in a number of choirs, I can't properly read music (or sight-sing as is the musical term). Yet there is music in me, crying to come out.
Then I think to myself, 'this is how people must feel when they walk into a yoga class the first time in their lives.' Shy, embarrassed and slightly angry that this thing that everyone around them enjoys so much, isn't readily available to them, nor is it enjoyable. They feel less than, they feel like outsiders.
I remind myself to keep an open mind and breathe. Then of course the first song the director chooses is the American national anthem :). I don't know the words, I hum along. We start going around the room for introductions. What I love is that we aren't talking about our jobs, just our names, type of voice (soprano, alto) and how we came to sing. The lady next to me says that she stopped singing once she had children, but she sings in the car, we all laugh, because we understand leaving things behind for loved ones and we all sing in the car :). Another lady came with her daughter. She apologizes to me since she can't hear very well. The reason she says, she isn't wearing a hearing aid is that there are too many options to choose from and many of them are just too expensive. I smile. I know what she means. Not about hearing aids but about getting slightly older and not being able to accept hearing aids, graying hair, failing eye sight, etc. being a part of your life now. And then comes the best part. This silent and very properly dressed lady at the end of the row, who looks like she is 70+ tells us that she is a musician who directs her own choir in her retirement home! She starts talking about managing choirs during World War II and how she went clubbing with her friends after every practice :)) She even manages to advertise her choir's upcoming performance with such zest and enthusiasm that you want to stop everything you do and just go see this damn performance! (Rita, she reminded me of you honey! :). And then she says that she doesn't have an email (she is the only one in the class who doesn't) but she doesn't apologize, she simply shrugs her shoulders and says 'I'm too busy to get into technology right now'. :)) Whoever she is, I want to get to know this woman!
We then leave the room to walk into the registrar' office, another younger looking lady approaches me and she goes 'I saw you not singing the national anthem, thank God I'm not alone!' :) She is this lovely French lady, who just moved to DC. I ask her how she likes it, she says 'it's weird sometimes, you know?' we talk about the weirdness of paper cups in Starbucks instead of ceramic, how everything is bigger and there's more space. She offers to advertise my yoga classes through her French email list. I can't believe in her kindness and sweetness! We exchange emails and say bye until next week!
I didn't get to talk to everyone in class, but I'm already psyched about our next meeting. So many possibilities, so much joy in getting to know other people :) Who knows, maybe I'll figure out some bits and pieces of the language called 'music' too, but for now I'm more excited about the language I know, the language of being a woman and having girlfriends :))