Choosing Joy

 The party was in a lovely home, with timbers, cabinetry, tile, and furniture all crafted by local artists. Yukon songsters Nicole Edwards and Annie Avery played and sang in front of a colorful wall hanging of strutting purple and teal peacocks, some serious, others sort of startled looking. There were chairs set up for the thirty of us or so that were invited to this house concert. Apparently they do this all the time in the Yukon. It is the first one I've been to in Haines. (Well, unless you count my family music nights, or the soirees at Debra's when Stoli played the piano along with Debra and others. Or the sing-a-long at Nancy's when we started the women's choir, or that Christmas when we sang the Messiah at Mimi's house.) Anyway, before the music began, we ate finger foods and sipped wine and talked about bears, fruit trees, moose hunting, wine in the bottle versus the box, a friend (our age!) recovering from a heart attack, and woodworking (the new kitchen fixtures were so nice, they inspired thoughts of an upgrade.) One friend talked of his children with their almost doctoral degrees. We all wondered when we would be grown-up, the way our parents were when they were our age. When do you get matching plates? A car that runs? Will my husband ever own a suit? (The friends we were talking with didn't even have a tie. I bought Chip one for Sarah's wedding.) But then we gathered in the living room for the music, and it was so great, so perfectly lovely from show tunes like Bewitched, Bothered, and Bewildered, to moving ballads that made some women tear up. (It was "a real chick thing," my husband said on the rainy drive home, although he certainly was enthralled. He never nodded off, even once.) Nicole has some pretty serious health issues, (she uses words like degenerative and progressive when speaking of her diagnosis) and as a result can't play the guitar anymore. (Her hands don't work, she says, holding up her elegant, black,  over-the-elbow length gloves, and smiling, with a shrug.) She sang about not letting herself be defined by her illness, in a snappy, and poetic way. She sang in French and in English. She sang about not being able to say no and letting the boys kiss her, (from Oklahoma!) and another funny, sexy song about mowing a lawn. She sang that if a man isn't handsome he better be handy. She sang about waltzing with her young-widowed mother on the porch when she was a child. I had been grumpy about my messed-up knee. (The cartilage tear will be fixed on Friday in Juneau.) Listening to, and watching, Nicole made me feel a little foolish. My diagnosis was simple. My prognosis good. There is nothing life changing about it. She has so much more to put on her  "grumpy pants" about. (Another swingy song that made us all laugh.) No one would fault her for being a little crabby, or for singing dark, Leonard Cohen style songs. But Nicole chooses to sing about joy and love, with humor and style, and because she does,  our  world is  a much better place.


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