Have you ever sat and contemplated everything that has happened in your life to lead to this one, given moment?
It was the early 90’s at some point when my oldest sister returned from study abroad in London with a mix tape of Billy Joel. Having been roomies at the time, I welcomed this new found obsession into rotation with her usual Broadway favorites – Les Miserable and Phantom of the Opera. To be honest, I was so young that I was just happy to have some music playing late at night that wouldn’t give me terrifying nightmares (phantoms were never my forte, music nerd pun aside).
Although my oldest sister was the one who brought Billy Joel home with her, pretty much all of my memories of that tape come from the long commute my Mom made each morning to drop my other siblings off at a private high school in the middle of nowhere when we first moved to North Carolina and I slept this hour long drive away in the back seat of the car until it was finally my turn to rock a new pair of bunny shaped earrings in my third grade class (sadly, a true story). Eventually this tape would be set aside for the finer qualities of Boyz II Men and the Gladiator (boxing movie, not gladiator movie) soundtrack. These short rides with my older siblings would mark my first realization that music existed beyond classical afternoons on NPR and I would become… obsessed.
Eventually I would become one of those teenage girls that was nearly impossible to raise without help of the village, so my parents would spend two summers sending me to that same oldest sister’s house in Utah where I would get my first real taste of what it was to be an independent musician trying to make it big as I spent those summers attending local shows in Provo in an era where punk rock truly meant something and being a ska kid was probably the coolest thing you could possibly be, sans irony.
Like the Billy Joel mix tape, my oldest sister was also the first to introduce me to New York City. We had made a drive by and a drive through before, but I had never really spent time gawking at Times Square with the rest of the tourists until my sister’s collaborated on a Christmas kidnapping to see Les Mis on Broadway when I was just 13 years old.
As the importance of the internet gradually moved from a concern my parents had for my social well-being to a staple of every day communication, I learned of that in 2000, Billy Joel and Elton John would grace the stage of Madison Square Garden and I thought to myself, “I’ve been there…almost,” and marked that moment on my mental bucket list. I would see Billy play Madison some day!
This concert in 2000 and my underlying fascination with the big city since my dawn as a teenager is part of what motivated me to move in with my sister (oldest, again) in New Jersey when I was 17. As she helped me survive the works of Chaucer and her husband helped me wrap my head around a self-study Physics program, I thought I might finish school and make surviving in New York City a priority.
But life happens… Billy and Elton had a barely spoken battle and Madison Square Garden was a moment that would be marked forever as part of their past, with no plans for the future. I would bounce around my sibling’s houses and eventually land in Utah, where I was convinced life would be easier and I would have some level of support in attending college.
Much to the chagrin of family and against the final pleas of my own mother, I gave almost everything up to continue life in music. Having this sense of purpose and this driving passion would become even more important to me than putting food on the table. My Dad would insist that I was doing it just to spite him; that I led my life under the assumption that he would bail me out in hard times. But no, I didn’t. I was just doing what I loved and being a part of something that helped me feel important when so many aspects of life during that time were trying to beat me down into submitting to a cookie cutter.
Bad things happened. Hard times seemed there to stay. The people who were closest to me would constantly try to convince me that it was these “hoodlums” I hung out with and the “seedy underbelly” of the music business that caused these terrible things to manifest. Until I landed a job as a College Marketing Representative with Sony Music in 2007.
Suddenly everyone who insisted my music-obsessed rebellion would get me nowhere in life but poor and unhappy would suddenly be proud of me and use my new found success as bragging rights. “That’s my girl…”
Nearly five years as a Marketing Rep and two years of rounding out my resume (another aspect of my life many people told me was the “wrong” thing to do), I find myself marking a powerful career punch that will be sure to be a knock out. But that’s not all. As I’m very grateful for the moments in life that have inspired me, the greatest lesson I have learned is to stop giving everyone else top credit. This has been a life long journey that I set out on in a time when my peers went door to door with babysitting fliers and lawn mowing offers and I… well, I became an event promoter.
Today, I write this from a hotel room in the heart of Times Square with a continuing career in music and marketing just at my fingertips and a couple of tickets to see Billy Joel at Madison Square Gardens burning through my pocket. Many easily forgotten moments and brief friendships helped get me here on a broad scale. My life long rebellion towards a simple career and an “MRS. degree” and an ever-pressing need for my independence has awarded me with my very own Superhero who has made more of my dreams come true than I ever thought to achieve in a life time.
Yesterday, I spent an afternoon with some of my Sony Music family. Today, I will be the starry eyed kid in tears for having arrived – not just at a concert, not just to a city, not just to a career point in my life, but to a moment that I always dreamt of sharing with only one special someone ever in my life. None of these things would matter nearly as much or be even close to this exciting without my Stark on my side. My excitement is in sharing this with him. My wonderment is in how I will never quite understand everything I did right in this life to be lucky enough to deserve such a perfect partner in crime.