There are few times in my life when I become spiritual. Whatever that means. As a matter of fact, I don't know that I've ever felt there was a bigger, better reason for the way of the world. I may have hoped it, I may have wished it, but I never saw any signs, any memories, any times in my life when the world plotted a path for me or taught me something through metaphysics or astronomy. Nor has a tree ever given me wisdom conspired from the hundreds of years prior. However, I will say, on my latest exploration abroad, something quite mind blowing occurred.
It happened after a short chain of events. At first I experienced something some would consider dark, horrific, and traumatizing. Something, I unfortunately, have come to see as what life brings to me for some reason. I won't go into specifics, but it was just not good. Around the same day, the next, I believe, I went to the cruise ship's headlining act. He was a country singer, but he mostly did folk music covers. In my depths of despair, I sat through his show and lip synched the songs in a sorrowful and dejected manner. The musician kept catching my eye and smiling. I assumed this was because I was the only one in the room who wasn't wearing Depends and Poligrip. While I cannot say the music made the events less harmful, they did make the situation more bearable.
I started going to his shows every opportunity I got. Each time, my confidence and ability to dance and sing along becoming more visible. The musician continued to smile at me and play towards me. Until, finally, after about a week or a week and a half, I ran into the musician outside one of his shows. He came to me with a smile and said, "I don't believe I've learned your name." He held out his hand and I gave him mine. He didn't let go, he just gripped it. I told him my name and he responded with, "What. a. BEAUTIFUL name. Fits for such a beautiful girl." He told me little details about himself, the one that stood out to me was that he had 17 Great Danes. My curiosity was peaked.
More days went on, and even though we now were familiar with one another, I did not think much of it. We did not speak again, we didn't even wave 'hello'. That is, until the very last night of the trip. After a night of one particularly "friendly" older gentleman dancing with me and making jokes about kissing my neck, I made an excuse to excuse myself and then, when I saw he was gone, I snuck back into the area where the musician had been performing and I sat. I was hoping he would stop to chat, but it was rather late, he was rather inebriated, and he was already chatting with another family. He had thrown my name into one of the songs earlier, but I am certain this was just a crowd pleasing technique.
Still, I waited. I jumped each time someone walked past, thinking it could be the "friendly" man, but he was preoccupied by waiting at the bar until I was to return. Which I was not going to do (I think it best to be kind to people you will be spending 10 days on a ship with. Until the very last night, of course.) The waiting turned into an hour wait. This would not be a big deal, but I was growing more nervous, it was getting later, and I had to leave the ship early the next morning. Not to mention, I knew my grandmother would go off on me if I got back to the room too late.
After sneaking a peek every few minutes to see if the musician would notice my presence, I hear, "Mind if I finish my beer with you?"
I look up with a smile and there is the big Southern boy all dressed in black and looking down at me. I tell him it would be my pleasure, inserting some sort of less-than-clever witticism. He sat down next to me and asked me, "What do you want to do with your life?" Without hesitation I told him I was studying music therapy. That wasn't exactly an answer to his question, but it was the best I could come up with off the bat and I don't think I had a better answer within me.
At this, he went off on a tangent. He had a website idea and kept mentioning this fancy name he came up for a physical therapy plus music therapy plus massage therapy sort of deal. It wasn't the most original or genius idea, but it was definitely impressive how confidently he shared and how much he came up with in the moment. The whole time he spoke, he maintained eye contact and looked at me with such intensity and genuine concern, that I couldn't stop looking into his eyes and focusing on each word (something I am utterly horrible at). When he finished with the idea, I nodded that it was a great idea. Fortunately, he didn't stop speaking long enough for me to worry about what worthwhile response I should give.
He then stood up and searched everywhere for a pen and paper to give me his personal contact information. He assured me repeatedly that it was not his business or agent, but his personal email and phone number. He wrote in silver marker. I said, "Wow. I love that marker!" He then handed it to me with a wink and followed with something which would normally totally creep me out, but it didn't feel wrong when he spoke it. He said, "I've been watching you for 10 days. Whenever you were within 10 feet of me, I knew. You radiate. You are a special lady."
I have been told I am special many a'times. Not because I am special, but because guys know girls want to hear it. I can't say why this felt different, but it felt like the words were glowing and in bold font. I took it to heart, which I never do. Anyways, he tells me about his wife and his life and then he tells me if I ever want to move to Nashville, he can hook me up with housing and a job. He then gives me one last really good eye stare and stands to pack up his things. "Need me to walk you anywhere to avoid bad old men?" He jokes. I normally wouldn't accept such an offer, but I both wanted to feel safe that night and quite honestly, I wanted to have a few last minutes with this fellow. At this point I should clarify, there was nothing uncomfortable or sexual or even remotely flirty about the conversation we had. This man is 60 years old and his genuine concern is what led to our friendship. At no point did I feel he was making advances or attempting to woo me. As a matter of fact, once we safely arrived on my floor, he asked if my room was near the end of the corridor. I told him it was midway, so he looked me in the eye, shook my hand, held it tight for a moment that felt like an hour, and said, "This won't be the last time I see you." and walked away.
SO... a couple days after I got home, as I picked up the book I had been reading throughout the trip; some depressing memoir in which a child dies or is killed each chapter (it was about Haiti), a paper slips out. The paper is the musician's contact information written in silver marker. At seeing it, his eyes flash in mind and throughout the day, I cannot escape them. They are the eyes of Dr. T.J. Eckleburg (Great Gatsby reference) to me. I decided to send him a message and I explain what had just occurred. I can't say his response was particularly spectacular or profound, but he let me know he would be texting me when he got back into the states. Whenever that will be. He was sure to include, "You're a special lady."
Was this a spiritual encounter? Oh, I don't know. Probably nothing in the stars about it... but so help me if it wasn't precisely what I needed during the trip. Each night when the other young people would come to collect me and have me come up to the lounge to dance to hip hop and pop and R&B, I would reject them and stay where I felt wanted and safe. If not for the musician, my sadness would have been overwhelming, this I know for sure. I can't thank God or fate, I can only thank the musician and his music.