When I was in the third or forth grade, Colwich Elementary School, was putting on their annual Christmas Program. Being a rather small scrawny child, I dutifully walked onto the stage and took my place in the front row amongst my fellow short statured classmates. As we faced the rest of the student body seated on the floor before us and our families in the audience seated behind them, we began to belt out the songs we had rehearsed for months prior to the event. Somewhere mid verse, as I scanned the crowded gymnasium, I spotted my neighbor, Rick, sitting next to my parents. Rick's son, Jeff was in my class and our families were not just neighbors, but good friends. Well, Rick made a face at me and I returned the favor (or maybe I started it), but as the story goes, Rick, sitting anonymously in the crowd was cracking up as he egged me on as we continued to make faces at each other, much to my parents horror as they watched helplessly!
You see, I have the ability to focus deeply and at times everything around me fades away. At that moment in my life, it was just silly Rick and I in that gym having a good ole' time as we had done so many times in the comfort of our homes. I was oblivious that half of the town was facing the stage I was on. I guess my teacher finally got my attention and motioned for me to stop, or maybe my parents got Rick's attention and put a stop to it at their end. Whatever the case, I promptly walked off the stage like nothing happened and it wasn't until after the program that the incident (and the idea that EVERYONE could see me) was brought to my attention.
I believe the ability to tune out the world has kept me sane at times and has also brought a sort of balance to my sometimes complicated life. A poker player I am not; it takes a conscious effort to keep my face from expressing what I am feeling at times; be it boredom, excitement or disgust. I have sort of 'come back into consciousness' on an airplane or other crowded place and looked round hoping that I hadn't inadvertently said something out loud or made a physical gesture outside of whatever was going through my mind. Had it been my calling, I probably would have made a good actress.
Although my Christmas Program memory is brought up occasionally in family gatherings, I haven't thought about it by myself for a very long time…that was until last night.
Around 6:30pm we had gathered together for our nightly meditation and while waiting for the last few stragglers to make their way to the room, Wayne had chosen Pink Floyd for our pre-meditation sensory enjoyment. Three of the little girls, Kunthea, Srey Moav and Venot, were directly in the row before me as I faced them on the low stage. I started mouthing the words to Comfortably Numb as they giggled at me and encouraged me with "Oh Melinda, skoit (crazy)". Getting into the silliness, I threw in a bit of air guitar and before I knew what was happening, Wayne had turned up the music and as it roared through the speakers and my mind, I went into full air guitar and lip sync while sitting there. (photo of Venot with her teddy and snack)
It was only a minute or so, until the song ended and I stopped and laughed along with the little girls. But I suddenly had that same -deer in the headlights- feeling as when my parents talked to me on the way home from the program 35 years ago. I sheepishly looked up as I scanned the other 50some faces looking back at me as the kids burst into laughter and clapping. I hid my embarrassment and took a seated bow as I silently willed the meditation to start so the lights would go dim and I could close my eyes and let my thoughts disappear for a few minutes.
My performance was a hit with Venot (our local wild child) as well as a couple of the older boys; today I was again reminded through laughter that "Melinda play guitar, Melinda skoit". I laughed along with them as my embarrassment lessened every time it was brought up.
How awesome can a Children's Home be? Wat Opot may just well be the only one that jams to Pink Floyd on a regular basis! Please come and join the fun (air guitar optional)!