Three Julys, and the broken beauty of what we choose to do

Last night: I close my eyes and allow singer Karin Bergquist’s vocals to wash over me, her voice rich, lilting at times. As I listen, I realize that this is the third time I’ve seen the musical duo Over the Rhine in the past two years. They comes to Albuquerque nearly every July – they teach an annual songwriting workshop in Santa Fe, so they also play concerts the area as well.

Over the Rhine, a wife and husband duo, plays something close to folk or Americana music, sometimes with a hint of rock. Many of their songs have narratives. Husband Linford Detweiler often plays the piano and guitar and Karin sings and sometimes plays guitar. Sometimes they sing together and harmonize. Some of the most stunning moments during their shows are the pauses where there is no other sound but her voice.

Some of my memories from the past three Over the Rhine shows:

July 2014:
I remember some details of that concert: the stage, some of the stories. I was likely somewhat distracted, somewhat stressed, and feeling on edge. I was grateful that I was in town to see one of my favorite bands. However, I was struggling with major depression and anxiety and every day felt like a struggle. Still, going to hear music reminded me of how much I had missed seeing live bands, the way the music could lift my mood for at least a few hours. The way someone else’s story could make me forget the incessant narrative of my own, even if just for a moment

July 2015:
At this show, I was definitely in full integration mode. It had been exactly one day since my Nia White Belt training ended. That week had been the first time in over a year where I had consistently been around a group of people. Going to a concert, even in a small, intimate setting, felt like a lot after being so active for a week. My mind wandered at moments, thinking back to all the new experiences I’d had, and then I would bring myself back to the music.

July 2016:
I dropped my best friend from childhood off at the airport, and then went straight to meeting my dad so we could go to dinner and then to the show. It was at the same venue where it had been two years ago. While somewhat distracted at moments- my mind going from the Nia class I would teach the next day, to the conversations I’d had with my friend – I mostly stayed present, savoring the words and melodies with a new appreciation. I found myself tearing up a few times. I had the thought that I would likely not be here next year for their show, since I will be moving after my wedding this October.

3 different Julys, and so much change. I have gone from feeling like I’d lost my dreams to gaining a vocation through art and dance, putting pieces together to create a life I want. The pieces may not always fit together perfectly, and there are many unknowns. As I anticipate my upcoming transition and the things on my to-do list, I also feel a sense of calm and right-ness in this moment.

I leave you with lyrics to one of Over the Rhine’s songs:

All I wanna be is a thousand black birds
Bursting from a tree into the blue
Love – let it be not just a feeling
But the broken beauty 
Of what we choose to do. 

— From the song All Over Ohio
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