Updated: Jan 6, 2020

Photo Credit: Valerie Visser Photography

October 1998…

“The hair lifted on my nape and arms, as I gripped the blankets I had pulled over my head until my knuckles went white, keeping myself hidden as if I were a silly child attempting to make herself undetectable. I was only seventeen, and it was the middle of the night. There shouldn’t have been any light or strange noises in my bedroom,” I whispered. What a lame excuse.

The Teacher’s unwavering gaze challenged my actions. “Why didn’t you open your eyes?”

For a split second my thoughts returned to the memory of that January afternoon four years earlier. The sun shone brightly, somehow making the below freezing temperature even more shocking as I descended the steep steps of the yellow school bus. The cold air made it difficult to breathe as my little brother and I raced down the driveway, hurriedly seeking the warmth of the wood stove, buy the house was strangely silent and cold. Why wasn’t my grandmother watching Oprah nestled next to a warm fire as she usually was? I recalled tiptoeing down the hallway, my voice wavering with unease as I cracked her bedroom door and whispered, “Grandma?” I had instinctively known she would not answer.

I shook off the memory, returning my attention to my story. “I held my breath and my heart felt as if it would beat out of my chest…but as quickly as it had happened it was over. I drifted off to sleep, barely aware of what had taken place. It wasn’t until the following day that I realized my grandmother had died in the bedroom next to mine exactly a year before. I spent the following days in search of an explanation for the light and the noise, but I never discovered one. I guess I’ll always wonder what actually happened that night…or if it had only been a dream,” I admitted regretfully.

“If anything like that happens to you again, you should not be scared…never be afraid to open your eyes,” The Teacher said softly.

His deep brown eyes seemed to bore into mine, and I was the first to break the contact, too timid and unsure of myself to hold the intensity of his gaze for long. Long, dark hair framed his majestic face, and I was captivated by everything about him. Earlier that night I felt lighter with every step that took me further away from my single dorm room as I lugged my guitar across the college campus and headed to my lesson, anxious to escape the environment where I felt so out of place. I threw it in the backseat of my green Chevy Impala that was as old as I was. Like you, it stuck out like a sore thumb parked in the middle of all the Land Rovers and Jeep Wranglers. I had received a scholarship to attend the prestigious university, and it was my fourth and final year living on the perfectly manicured grounds, surrounded by beautiful people that I never measured up to. I should have graduated the following spring, but it would be one of many things in my life that I “should” have done. I breathed a sigh of relief when the old girl started and I was able to drive the twenty minutes to his house, jittery with excitement, and anticipating the solace that I had begun to find in music. Not to mention the solace that you found in him?

I didn’t respond to his advice but instead returned my attention to my fingers as they fumbled to find the correct notes in the minor pentatonic scale. My breath caught in my throat when I glanced up to find him kneeling in front of me.

“I can’t get your voice out of my head,” he whispered, as he leaned in and brought his lips softly to mine.

I froze.

“I have an early class in the morning.” Sounds like another pathetic excuse. I quickly gathered the sheet music that was spread haphazardly around the table, returned my guitar to it’s case, and quickly made my way out the door. The Teacher carried my guitar, following silently along behind me. It was late as we stood quietly and lifted our gazes to the beauty of the star-filled sky. His voice sent shivers down my spine as he softly crooned Van Morrison’s lyrics:

“It’s a marvelous night for a moon dance, with the stars up above in your eyes

A fantabulous night to make romance, ‘neath the cover of October skies”

For just a moment I stood still and took it all in. The stars shone brightly, the crisp night air flushed my cheeks, and I breathed in the aroma of the sweet autumn leaves…time stood still. I wasn’t prepared for the intensity of the moment. He reluctantly released his hold as I retrieved my guitar from his hands, threw it carelessly in the backseat, and sped away…retreating to the solitary confinement of my dorm.

Maybe it was the music, maybe it was him…or more than likely a bit of both. I fled, unaware how that moment would impact the next twenty years, for it would begin my long and confusing search to discover truth in my life.

But that night I wasn’t ready to open my eyes.

Excerpt from CROSSROADS: My Search for Truth Through Music and a Lot of Red Wine

"And So It Begins..."

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