Sunday, September 13, 2009

the sum of my parts

I always appreciate it when good things come almost out of left field; the unexpected realization that you're having an awesome life moment right now is a great way to get your adrenaline going. My heart starts beating a little faster and I can't stop smiling, because I know that in this moment I'm really happy to be where I am, experiencing whatever it is that's happening. It's been kind of a low-key couple of weeks for me in terms of that particular kind of moment; I feel mostly happy most of the time, but the hills and valleys haven't been quite as high as they were a few months ago. I'm certainly not about to complain about general happiness, but I've been feeling due for a really great self-reflexive moment, the kind where I feel like I'm part of something profound unfolding even as I'm standing back and thinking "holy shit!".

I was at a party the other night for a musician friend of mine who had just returned from three months of summer music festivals when I had a moment. I just started subbing in for a concert with my old orchestra and I've been feeling a little out of place there, and it was just slightly on my mind when I walked into the party. That orchestra tends to feel extremely normative to me; generally not a lot of people dress or behave all that outrageously (at least as far as I know from orchestra gossip and observation), and, honestly, I always always always feel like just about the queerest person in the room, or at least the queerest female person. Which is fine (and I'm hopefully wildly underestimating the people that I work with), but it can also be somehow slightly irritating sometimes. When I showed up at my friend's place I was in a little bit of that kind of mindset, so even though I fully expected to have a good time and see some people who's company I enjoy I was also prepared to once again be the "queer expert" if sex or dating or a variety of other topics happened to come up.

When I got introduced around the room, I realized two of the people there were a queer couple who I'd heard about from a mutual friend and had consequently talked to individually on (interestingly enough) okcupid. I was excited to finally meet them both; it had sounded like we had a lot in common and I'd been kind of waiting to eventually run into one of them, as was bound to happen in the tiny universe of musicians in the city. Our conversations intersected at various points for a while, and eventually I started noticing how free and easy they were with their queerness, how totally open and happy and comfortable they were. I can't remember the last time--if ever--that I was in a group of musicians where anybody but me used the word "queer" (or at least used it before I did), and it made me inexplicably happy to see these two fairly major parts of my life, music and gayness, were both going to get a little play.

Eventually the three of us began talking more, and we moved onto the porch where we ended up discussing drag king conferences (he had been in a Portland group I'd nearly seen perform some sort of rock opera with when A and I were driving to Alaska, except we couldn't delay the trip another day to wait for the show), upcoming queer events they hadn't heard about, and finally the lack of readily available queer musician community. It felt really, really good to talk about somewhat personal stuff with these two relative strangers, and it felt even better to be open myself with both of my parts, the musician and the queer girl. I got a little worked up perhaps (I asked them if I could hug them, and I tried to convey how happy I was at meeting them but I probably just sounded overenthusiastic), but I think it made us all happy; when I had to say my goodbyes shortly after that, we hugged again and talked about having dinner and playing music sometime. I walked home smiling.

I feel like I'm not entirely communicating what I want to say, how it felt to meet other people who might have had experiences that were close to what I've been living for years. I spend so much time searching for connection, and so much of the time even with people I know and love that can feel slightly tenuous, like it's happening on certain levels but others are being left out of the mix or have to be explained because it's not a place we mutually inhabit. I don't even try to mix these particular two elements very often, because I so rarely meet people who understand both sides, who have spent their time learning to love music and living in the way that that career dictates while also nurturing and enjoying a whole life where there can be queer identity and gender play. It made me profoundly happy to stand on that porch and know that we could talk about either Debussy or drag kings; it felt like I was less alone than I had been before, which is ultimately the goal of connecting with others in the first place. Even if we never end up doing much together, this one evening will stay with me and remind me that I'm not the only one trying to balance these two mostly disparate parts, that there are so many others who can relate to what I'm thinking when I stare in resignation around the orchestra and feel so understatedly but distinctly different.


Mug-z said...

Oh, OKC. All the cool chi queers are on it. Glad it's good for something! :P

ammie said...

Haha, well that's where we met... And that seems to be working out well! So hurrah :)

Mug-z said...

Oh, I was totally serious! That is to say, I concur.
(Not that that had much to do with the original post, it's just that I have nothing particularly articulate to say about the rest other than that I enjoyed reading it.)