I’ve come back this evening full of wassail and curried lentil soup from the midweek open mic night at a local wine and mead brewery and restaurant with my musical friend from the lakeside. We had rather lost touch with one another since our family was overseas, had tried to plan a coffee time but with work and kids and not living in the same area, didn’t happen. A second musical friend who lives just around the corner had been wanting to get together and play, eventually at the open mic. I invited the two of them to come scout it out first. That was last week, and the plan had slipped my mind, so when my lakeside friend emailed to confirm, I almost said no, since I’d just spent all day driving my kids around and thought they might need me for homework or food prep or something. And the idea of going out on the town is still, frankly, a novel idea, just not something I regularly think of. But my daughters insisted I wasn’t needed at home and should go, so off I went to get ready, my middle daughter in tow, so she could help me choose what to wear and because she said she just needed to be with me. She played with my hot rollers, advised me to get some brighter lipstick, then left as I addressed the finer points of my toilette.
Apparently I’d led my friend to believe it was karaoke night, and she was ready to go onstage, with or without a preparatory glass of mead. But I insisted that it was only a spectator night and that open mic in the future could be our plan. She on piano and vocals, I on vocals and guitar, and our other friend vocals and fiddle. We needed a mandolin, she said, for something different (almost everyone was singing to guitar), to which I heartily assented. Meanwhile, we settled at a table, ordered a wassail and cider, and caught up on news of each others’ families while we enjoyed the musical offerings. Several college-age singers, one high schooler even, several fellows of our own generation, and an older timer with younger sidekick who sang a country folk song, all soulful and talented. It was a small, comfortable and casual venue, a good one in which to break into the amateur music scene in town. Sign up just after five by phone, said the fellow serving the drinks.
The host of the establishment was a very comfortable person in the way he came up close to hear what he could do for you, and invited further acquaintance (while preparing drinks) without being overly familiar. On top of everything going on, very in tune. Turned out his family hailed from my neck of the woods in a very roundabout way, the clan of Cameron being a veritable pillar of Nova Scotia culture. The open mic host, a tousle-headed, bearded blond with an argyle vest and a winning manner, introduced the performers and brought on more applause for them as they moved off stage.
My soup was getting cold and so was my mead, and Mr. Cameron offered to reheat it for me, and in the last half hour I consumed the rest of the soup and the final three quarters of the mead. Conversation got merrier, the music louder, and then it was time to go home, what with it being week night, and with kids to wake and feed in the morning. I bought a bottle of wassail to share with my husband some cold evening by the fire. I confessed to my friend that although I wasn’t of a drinker and preferred coffee, my husband liked it when I had a few drinks. “So does mine!” she replied.
There was a time when my man would have been hurt that I’d consider going out without him (even if he couldn’t or didn’t want to go), I’d told my friend over mead. “And why not now?” she asked. “A different stage, I guess, more confidence in each other, more secure in ourselves, so we’re happy to see the other go have a good time with other friends,” I answered. Interesting that some couples give one another that freedom from the beginning, some grow into it, and others never venture to even desire such a level of independent enjoyment. For many years, it wasn’t really an issue; there were duties, no money for the level of child care that we would have needed, then fatigue. Friends or relatives would periodically arrange with us so my husband and I could go out together, but we never got in the habit. Visiting with my friends at my place or theirs during play dates for our kids or coop homeschooling was sufficient for my social needs, and if I came across a concert or lecture I wanted to attend, I usually couldn’t think of anyone who was both willing and able to go. Now my cohort is mostly past the years of caring for small children and wanting to branch out, as I am. Even hanging out with our grown-up children is becoming an option, where tastes run along the same lines. It’s a good place to be.