The campfire was set up very similarly to last time but this time there was an area which was marked off with 4 logs that was going to be the entertainers stage. I followed Tracy around like last time and helped where I could. A lot more people wanted to talk to me, but I was still feeling shy and couldn't help keeping my answers short. Then Ellie came up to me and took me off to show me her new act. She was going to try using 3 hula hoops, one on each arm as well as the usual one. Let's face it, she was only 5, it looked really cute, but not that successful. She was a little chatterbox, telling me all about her day. Her parents decided that I needed rescuing and convinced her to let me go with the promise that she would see me again, but probably best left until after I had finished singing.
Martha arrived with Sam, Amy, Sarah and Harriet. None of the pack in sight. I helped them bring the food and we had a whispered conversation to arrange when we would perform. I was feeling nervous and wanted to go for it early. After the kids had finished and the jugglers I would try and be next. We would sing 4 songs then give them the nod to approach.
Sam was acting very nervous around me, so when I had the chance, I took her aside and quizzed her.
“Have I done something to upset you?”
“No, its nothing, I'm fine.”
“Come on Sam. We are friends aren't we?”
“Yes. Of course we are.”
“If we are friends, we have to be honest with each other.”
“Well, if we are going to be honest, I have to say, your bum looks really big in those jeans.”
I just looked at her with raised eyebrows.
“It's a nice bum though. Alright, alright. I'll tell you. Can I ask you a question first?”
“Who have you come out to?”
“I've definitely told Tracy. I think Steph knows as well.”
“So its not the reason you went street?”
My mind flashed back to the shower and the men around me and that thing in front of my face. “No, that was something else.” I don't know what was on my face, but I don't think it hides much.
“I'm sorry, I'm sorry.” She hugged me. “I won't bring that up again. I came out to my parents about 6 months ago. No one took it well. All my family is pretty religious and they tried to punish it out of me, like it was a choice. Like I would chose it.” It was my turn to comfort her.
“The only thing that bugged me when you told me was the implication that there was something wrong with it. You are who you are. If you want to bring God into it, surely he made you the way you are for a reason.”
“I'm sorry, its just that I keep expecting you to... I don't know.....reject me somehow.”
“Err...you are an attractive girl, but I'm not looking for a relationship just now. Will that do?”
She laughed. Kissed me on the cheek. “Thank you.” She then looked a bit more serious with a twinkle in her eye. “When you are ready, let me know.”
I felt a little shiver go through me. The song I'll stand by you by the Pretenders came to mind. That would be a great song to sing for her.
I saw Steph arrive bringing a few friends. They brought a few pizzas to add to the food table. One of them, Maria, was doing some kind of media studies and asked permission to record us. None of us minded, so she disappeared to get more permissions before it all started. It wasn't long before the bell rang and the call “food is ready” rang out.
I didn't eat too much, I was getting nervous. There was lots of laughter and fun around me as everyone relaxed and enjoyed themselves. We were heading towards the middle of November and with clouds overhead the darkness came on quite quickly. There is something comforting and mesmerising in the dance of the flames. I allowed them to settle me somewhat as we waited for everyone to finish their food and the entertainment to start. Again it kicked off with the kids. Ellie was so cute, but her routine was a bit of a disaster. Although there was lots of applause, I could see that she was disappointed, so I shook off my nerves to go up to her and comfort her. She ran to her parents to drop off the hoops and then ran back to stay with me, sitting on my lap as we watched the rest. The jugglers upped their game and used these mini torches that they lit dramatically from the campfire before starting. Jason was nowhere to be seen, so I was hoping to start after they had finished.
I led Ellie, holding her hand, back to her parents while Steph set up her keyboard in the stage area and Tracy got out her fiddle. Her friend Maria set up her camera on a tripod in front of us. I set myself behind Tracy and Steph in a chair. We had decided to start with Songbird again. This was mainly to help me settle. So I closed my eyes and found my zone. Steph and Tracy started and I slipped in as we had practised. It was getting easier and more comfortable stepping into my connection to the song and releasing it. I could feel the tears tracking down my face as I thought of my father. When I finished, with only a mild pause we headed into Oh Daddy. I loved the work Tracy and Steph were doing to really add depth to the song. After I had finished singing, Tracy did a really soulful violin solo. We followed that with Almaz which started with a Steph intro. It's a very wistful song very suited to piano accompaniment, but just the little touches of violin added an extra dimension. When that finished I opened my eyes and stood up. I think everyone thought we had finished as they started applauding.
We waited for the noise to die down then Steph started the intro to Fight Song and the crowd quietened. I have been fighting all my life and I have always been outnumbered and outweighed. I loved the lyrics emphasising small actions with big results. But this was what I would call an external song. The previous songs were from my emotions within and this song was me shouting defiance to the world, so I had to look it in the eye and declare it. To be honest, I wasn't sure I could do it. I was not use to attention from lots of people. I had lived my life trying to be invisible. And when I caught someone's notice there would usually be a nasty confrontation. But right then and there, I was in my comfort zone, I had friendly people around me and I let it out. My anger, my defiance, my willingness to fight, to stand up for myself to not be a doormat. It poured out of me in a cathartic way. When I finished, I actually felt better.
We had lots of claps and cheers again and Tracy got ready to leave. I put my hand on her shoulder to try and indicate 'not yet'. She looked at me with a question in her eyes, but I couldn't say anything until the noise settled. When it did I said to her in a loud voice, so everyone could hear “I have one more song to sing tonight and I am dedicating it to you and how you make me feel. I then waved to the girls who approached us and then turned around to face the audience in a diamond formation. Now Steph, the girls and I, had all practised the song Happy separately, so it had a potential for disaster. All I can say is, it was awesome. I couldn't really see the girls dancing, not until later anyway, when we could watch Maria's video recording, but singing it to Tracy who was crying, hopefully happy tears, was just joyous. Before we got to the end I could see Ellie and her parents dancing along with quite a few others. We had to sing it again to give enough time for dancing.
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