Growing up, I was The One Who Could Not Sing. My older sister and brother, on the other hand, were routinely cast in musicals and chosen for high school Madrigals (the “Glee”-like choir reserved for the cream of the teen vocal crop). At Christmas, my siblings harmonized over “We Three Kings”—and while they charitably let me sing along, it was pretty clear who was the weakest king.
Meanwhile, my father enforced strict family rules blatantly designed to silence my ambitious lungs:
1. No singing in the morning before breakfast.
2. No singing at the table (breakfast, lunch, or dinner).
None of this deterred me. I sang in the afternoon and evening, in the shower and in my bedroom and standing on living-room furniture. I sang in the car and in the grocery store, my fist serving as a microphone. And as I entered my teens in the ‘80s, I sang everything on offer: Bananarama and Boy George, Rick Springfield and Richard Marx, Oingo Boingo and OMD, Tanya Tucker and Tammy Wynette, Guns N’ Roses and Quiet Riot. I sang it all, I sang it loud, and I sang it off-key.
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OZZY IS GIVING ME ATTITUDE—bumping against my pack, nosing ahead, blowing his semisweet-fermented breath in my face. I nudge him on the chest to keep him behind me as I inch down the steep sandstone, but he clearly has personal-space issues. I chose Ozzy . . .
My best friend and I rarely call each other. Not because we don’t enjoy talking; we just prefer to catch up in person, ideally over frosty drinks in a foreign land. But before our recent trip to Nicaragua, I texted her, “Are we taking backpacks or rolling . . .
“What’s going on?” Dan asked, smiling. He nodded at my feet, which tapped to the beat of zero music. My hands were in constant motion, too—fidgeting with my phone, flipping through the in-flight magazine, rustling in my purse, playing with the barf . . .
The voice was booming, packed with obscenities, and deep—almost supernaturally deep. It was unlike any sound my lungs had ever produced. But there was no time for contemplation. It was 2 a.m. in Busan, South Korea, and an intruder was in my living room. The . . .
Home is not where you live, but where they understand you.” –Christian Morgenstern