Monday, June 26, 2017

The sound of friendship

I never thought I'd meet someone on the Internet who I'd have a real relationship with.

No, I'm not talking about Alex. I actually met him in the flesh. Twice, two years apart (neither of us remembered each other the second time, but that's another story).

I'm talking about Jill.

We have the wonderful Hilary to thank, who is still in our lives but has moved on to be an awesome writer and educator outside of California, so sadly we don't get to see her too much.

But it was through a Google search for an image for a tweet that led me to Hilary's blog, which eventually led me to Jill's blog, and after reading both of their blogs for a year I couldn't take it anymore!

I had to reach out and at least try to be their real, off-the-world-wide-web friend.

And boy am I glad they said Yes, you non-creepy person, we'll meet you for queso and Diet Cokes and discussion of books and writing.

Fast forward two years, and we're still in touch.

Jill asked me some weeks back if I wanted to accompany her to the Sound of Music sing along at LA's Hollywood Bowl.


This past Saturday our fateful night of singing along with Julie and company was upon us.

I wasn't sure I was going to be the best company for Jill, admittedly, as we approached the actual date. I mean, the movie itself is three hours, and the Bowl itself can be three hours getting in and out and around and through the thousands of people and traffic, and it had been a long time since I'd been social for so many hours on end. I love Julie and whiskers on kittens, you know I do, but I didn't want my Big Bad Moods to creep in and call it a night before I was ready.

Well I'm happy to report the night was perfect.

Even if we were super early for the event.

"Film, 8 p.m.?!" Jill yelled, incredulous, grabbing for her Dolly Parton tote (purchased during our last Bowl excursion to see her Majesty herself) to review our tickets. We had just pulled off the freeway and were at a stoplight by the Bowl's main sign, which said the pre-show (read: 5 million girls in white dresses with blue satin sashes parading across the Bowl stage YOU CAN SKIP IT) started at 6:30 and the movie started at 8.

"My tickets just say 6:30!" Jill continued to cry.

This is Los Angeles, however, and this was Saturday, and moreover, this was Hollywood on a Saturday, so there was really no place we could go and kill time other than right there in Hollywood, because to turn around and go elsewhere in the city and come back would have been ridiculous.

So we made the best of it.

We parked the car, found a patch of grass (yes, there is some) in front of an apartment, sat down and ate our Subway sandwiches and talked for almost two hours about the things we always talk about: feelings, writing, our loves, my cat (because I can't help myself), life in California, our families.

We sat long enough that the sandwiches settled and we dipped into Doritos and Skittles, washing it all down with Diet Coke, every once in a while checking our phones, every time realizing we still had plenty of time to mosey ourselves over to our viewing venue. So we'd tuck our phones away, grab some more blue and orange buttons of candy, and talk talk talk some more.

We talked our way to a trash can to toss out our garbage, talked ourselves to the car to get a sweater for Jill, talked ourselves to the Bowl, to the bathroom, up up up the ramp, then over and up some more to our seats, section M1, seats 27 and 29, our ages (just kidding).

We found ourselves surrounded by nuns, male and female, and one of the boys named Sister Sunshine passed me a cocktail and I thought, OK this night is going to be way more ridiculous than I thought it would be.

At some point the Very True Fact that Christopher Plummer is SMOKIN' came up and Jill and I said at the exact same moment, "He really is," then immediately jerked our heads to meet eyes and said, "Whoaaaaa."

It was determined early on in the singing along that Jill's range is higher than mine, so she took Liesl's part during "Sixteen Going on Seventeen," which worked out quite well for my lower register.

People waved their phones during Edelweiss, cat called whenever the Captain came on screen, and flashed laser pointers across the faces of the Nazis. It was all very silly and fun and I'm so glad I went.


After I graduated from college, my best friend Nick gave me a Sound of Music DVD. I had finished school a semester early and went back to campus for a visit, and we watched the movie together with our friend Briana in my brother's apartment and we giggled, all mashed together on a futon.

I went back home to my parents' place, missing my friends (and Nick especially) like crazy, and I would watch the Sound of Music for comfort and nostalgia. Sadly, I think the absence of my friends on the futon always made it bittersweet. But I watched it anyway. I went to the hills when my heart got lonely.

My family, (not big Julie fans), didn't usually want to join me. Dad picked me up from work and as we were driving home I hinted that we could watch it together and he yelled, "The hills are dead, Bailey! They're dead!"

I giggled and watched my movie solo, soaking in my homesickness for college, the theme of that season in my life.


The Bowl is actually one of my lesser favorite venues for live music in LA. And as someone who averages about 15 concerts a year, I can say that.

I prefer more intimate shows. I think I like to be inside, for one -- the walls capture the sound, making it richer, like humidity. Plus I like to be really close to the stage, and I don't mind one bit standing for three hours.

Saturday was my favorite experience at the Bowl (though Dolly, as Dolly herself, is no contest), and it's thanks in large part to the giant community that filled the seats.

As we were singing some of the lyrics,

My heart wants to sigh like a chime that flies
From a church on a breeze
To laugh like a brook when it trips and falls over
Stones on its way

How do you keep a wave upon the sand?

Show them I'm worthy
And while I show them
I'll show me

I thought, no really, some of these are really, truly beautiful. Powerful.

There was a moment, shortly before the show started ("Film, 8 p.m.?!"), that I thought, Oh no. Is depression creeping in? Am I getting in my head? Wondering whether I'm going to enjoy this as much as the tipsy nuns behind me?

And then they started the movie. A trill whistle sounded in the distance as we were transported from the hot Hollywood hills to the snow-capped Austrian mountains. And then there they were.

The hills.

The green, grassy hills.

And there she was.


And then we were singing.

And it was gone. That fear of being in my head. We sang that song we've sung for a thousand years, all together, me, Jill, my Internet friend who now, just like that, is a real friend, Sister Sunshine, and 17,000 of our close, personal friends.

My fear melted off as the ridiculous, the fun, the music married itself into where it's been before. Whether I'm bobbin' my head to Tegan and Sara in a tiny venue or zoning out to Iron & Wine while I type in my bedroom, music has always rescued me from fear.

I had several moments during the film on Saturday where I was that person who was thinking, But music really DOES bring us all together and fix things!!


I sat on some grass Saturday night, eating Skittles and talking about good things and scary things. I was not all consumed by the scary things; rather, we just talked about them, like the good things and the scary things were equal breaths of wind. I didn't feel rushed, or anxious. I didn't feel sad, or the need to be anywhere else.

I felt at ease, with my friend. My friend Jill.

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