My high school music teacher was a verbally abusive and disgruntled human being (he once turned to my section and said “What’s going on over there? It sounds like a Mongolian cluster f***,” causing the international student FROM MONGOLIA to promptly stop coming to choir) but the man did like accolades so my sophmore year he recorded and submitted tapes of all “his” singers to be considered for Washington state choir. I was the only one selected, for which said music teacher took credit (nevermind years and years and dollars and dollars of private voice lessons that had positively nothing to do with him).
Anyhow, Washington State Choir took place mid-state in Yakima. As I did not drive yet my Mother woke me up early one morning, packed me a few snacks and dropped me off at the Greyhound station to take the bus to Yakima. I was given cash and directions to take a cab to the fair grounds once I arrived, if possible, I should find someone else going to state to split the cab with (more economical, and we are a practical people).
I felt so grown up heading out on this adventure. I’d never traveled anywhere independently before and it all seemed very mature making sure you were back on the bus at appropriate times, listening to my book on tape via Walkman, and gazing with purpose out the window at the increasingly boring Washington landscape. I don’t remember having a cell phone, maybe I did, but I don’t think I called my parents when I got to Yakima. Thinking back on it now I have to imagine that putting me on the bus that morning was a touch scary for my parents. But I admire their willingness to facilitate independence. I remember so much about this trip and experience precisely because I felt so gloriously grown up, trusted and alone.
After arriving, I quickly determined that State Choir was just a bigger version of school choir, complete with a verbally abusive and disgruntled director. Checking in to our hotel that night, positively overrun with musical teenagers and not at all like a scene from Pitch Perfect, I delighted in receiving a cookie. I really felt like I’d earned the cookie and I’d never stayed at a DoubleTree before so I did not KNOW about the cookie and it appeared to be a very FANCY cookie.
I trundled up to my shared room with my cookie and music and bag where I met my roommates (all Mormon, one adopted from China). I was thoroughly informed on the grand Mormon Choir tradition as I got ready for bed. I felt really proud of myself for working through whatever anxiety I had about meeting and sleeping with strangers. As I got ready to brush my teeth I remembered the cookie. I retrieved the cookie from my tidy pile of belongings and sank down across from the sink in the closet of the hotel room. The satisfaction of being alone and doing well in my sampled adulthood, rested with me while I dug in to that cookie. It was chewy and substantial, inexplicably crunchy and soft. Downright complex for being a hotel giveaway. I felt amazing crouched in that closet with that cookie staring at my fifteen year old self in the mirror above the sinks. I knew I was going to have a weird musical week, but I also knew I was an awesome adult now and I would be fine. And I was.
Fast forward fifteen years. I am again headed to Eastern Washington to stay at a DoubleTree. This time I drive. This time I have to get MYSELF out of bed early to make the trip. This time I pack my own snacks. I am still listening to things on tape but instead of library books on cassette it is NPR programs and instead of a Walkman it is my iPhone. When I checked in for the work conference I was attending, I felt nervous. I’d never participated in a professional event with these colleagues before. What would it be like? Who would I eat with? Did I pack the right outfits? More importantly DID THEY DRINK COCKTAILS?
The first night I’d not connected with anyone I knew and was headed out for dinner on my own. As I was walking to the restaurant two colleagues whom I deeply respect saw me and invited me to join them. With a moderate level of hesitation (I mean I was going to eat somewhere GOOD, where were they headed!?) I said yes.
Thankfully, the restaurant was excellent, I ordered smoked trout on toast (WHAAATTT yum). And they OF COURSE drank cocktails. And we talked about work; they offered career advice, providing camaraderie for the challenges we all face as women in our profession. We spoke candidly and honestly and I felt so very lucky to be held under the wing of these women, and to be advised by them as I trotted ideas and perceptions forward. I felt suddenly professional and very adult and very lucky.
That night, snuggled back in my hotel room I remembered theDoubleTree cookie I’d been handed when I checked in. After confirming that I had enough calories left in my daily quota to eat it (yes you read that correctly,GAH being an adult is not all it’s cracked up to be) I sat in my pajamas and watched bad MTV reality programs while eating the cookie. The satisfaction of being alone and doing well in my current adulthood, rested with me while I dug in to that cookie. It was chewy and substantial, inexplicably crunchy and soft. I knew I was going to have a great week, but I also knew I was indeed an awesome adult and I would of course, be fine.