Perhaps it’s because I married young, but I really think that it’s more likely a basic part of my nature, but the truth is, I am not a person who has, historically, liked to venture out on my own. I’ve not been crazy about trying things that are unknown to me. I haven’t liked to walk first through a door of a new place. I’ve liked the comfort of the “known”. Perhaps it’s a growing self-confidence that comes with maturing; perhaps it’s just realizing that a new place or event isn’t going to suck me away, but over the last few years I’ve had a few opportunities to go out on my own in a strange place and I’ve not only relished the experiences, but I’ve often discovered little unexpected gems that leave me feeling alive, fulfilled, almost breathless.
Today I had one of those experiences. Today, after finding my way to a specific store on the upper west side of New York City, I was wandering back to our hotel when I passed the American Folk Art Museum. The sign outside said that admission was free, so I decided to check it out. When I walked in, I could hear music playing and realized that this was a live performance, not a recording. I checked my shopping bag with the security guard, put my $5 suggested admission donation into the box and walked into the museum enjoying the guitar music that was coming from two men seated at the front of a small gathering of chairs in the central area of the museum. As I walked through one small wing, the music stayed with me and made the exhibits even more enjoyable. Suddenly, I noticed that a woman’s voice was now accompanying the guitar players. She was singing Patsy Cline’s Crazy and her voice drew me from the museum wing I was in, back to the central area like the smell of baking bread draws one into a bakery. I felt I was carried along by the sound of her voice. I found an open seat (one of only two available) and went on to listen, enjoy and sway to the end of Crazy as well as two additional songs. When she finished her set, she sat down in the one remaining seat and a tall distinguished looking man approached the stage. The guitar player said something like, “I’m not sure what he’s going to want to do, but we’ll bring him in with a little blues shuffle,” and the two guitar players proceeded to play a few notes with a rhythm that had me tapping my foot before the man even arrived at the front of the room. The music then segued into the notes for the song I’d Rather Drink Muddy Water, the man began to sing and the entire audience began swaying, tapping and clapping. Wow! Folk art, Patsy Cline and blues music -- and all for my little $5 admission donation.
When I left the museum, I felt like I was swollen with serendipity. I walked the rest of the way back to our hotel with a spring in my step and a smile on my face. How fortunate that I am no longer my younger, tentative self. How fortunate that I am now my more confidant, eager-to-explore self.