In Austin, I found a pianist, filed my applications for entry, and started doing a lot of singing. That fall I hauled something like eighty-seven pieces of luggage across the country, over the Atlantic ocean, through the Dublin airport, into a taxi, onto a ferry, I think there was another plane or three, and a bus, there was a bus, and a train aaaaaaaallll the way down to Swansea, do not critique my recollection of travel options through Britain, it was a solid 36 hours of not being allowed to sleep and it was the most bizarre and wonderful pain I have ever endured in the name of musical-cultural expression. It’s okay that I don’t remember it clearly. End of story.
I checked into the Dragon Hotel (how I finally got there, I’ll never remember) and slept like the dead for about a week. I nursed my travel-inspired sinus infection, and managed to get myself back in working order before the National Eisteddfod got underway. (Point of interest: The Dragon Hotel also did not have working wireless in the rooms, so I spent an alarming amount of time sitting on a couch in the lobby—in my pajamas, because I’m shameless like that—with a laptop. The hotel employees got to recognize me pretty quickly!)
I navigated the amazing and terrifying landscape of the Welsh National Eisteddfod, sang like a loon (well, not exactly like a loon), made it through the preliminaries into the main stage event, talked to people from newspapers and radio shows and television shows, sang on an enormous stage in an enormous pink pavilion, and won second place in the Over 25 Mezzo-Soprano division. Stride la vampa in Welsh, can you imagine that!? (To this day, Marty can sing the first two lines of “Gwridog y fflamau” on cue.) Another competitor was kind enough to translate for me when they announced my name and shook my hand in front of all those people. I grinned and said Thank You and floated home in a haze of shock and delight.
Then I did other things for a few years.
Marty and I moved into an apartment. I blackmailed him into quitting his job. (I KID, I kid.) We continued to build our individual empires from the ground up, learning and relearning just how challenging (and rewarding!) it is to make a living when you don’t have some larger institution promising to take care of you. I launched That Idea Blueprint Girl, and started to get seriously intense about where I was going and what I was doing. We did a lot of stuff. It was interminably cool.
And then… there was this. The North American Festival of Wales, 2009, in Pittsburgh.
To be continued. (Please don’t hurt me.)