Tuesday, November 20, 2012

A Broad Abroad, Chapter 3: Lost and Found

I am over halfway through my adventure as a Berliner.  I have been here for just over one month with just under one month left before my return to Manhattan.  Perhaps it is the approaching American holiday that has me thinking so much about the US.  There are some things about New York that I am really looking forward to, one of utmost importance being good sushi.  However, coming back to New York also has filled me with fear and dread.  As excited as I am to see my dear friends and family again, I’m afraid I’ll let them down if I don’t come back with any career successes.   Before this European leap of faith, I’d never been so open and public about my operatic endeavors, for fear of embarrassment if I failed.  With this exploit, I had to be public.  Without my New York support system behind me, I would not have had the courage to get on that plane on October 9th or sing at my first European audition October 16th or stay strong when I was homesick or try again when I felt like I flopped.  I also hoped being open about my experience could help someone considering this path, just as those already singing in Europe encouraged and guided me. 

So far, this journey has not been as simple as people in America suggested or as successful as I’d fantasized.  I haven’t had any agent audition horror stories (for which I am grateful), but I haven’t had any success stories either.   I’ve had days when I felt everything I tried was wrong, obsessing over the dress, the hair, the starting aria.  I’ve had days when I cried into my tea, “How is this different from getting rejected at Nola studios,” with my only answer being, “Well, you left your day job and spent all your savings to be rejected in Germany.” Naturally, that is not the news I want to relay when I get back the US in December. That is the news that makes me feel like let my “fan club” and myself down.

Honestly, I don’t know if my life as a singer will change from this period in Europe, but my life as Laura Parker certainly has.  Aside from speaking a foreign language, I’ve had a number of experiences that have spoken to my soul.  I cannot walk the canals of Amsterdam, touch the Berlin wall, read Bach’s original manuscripts, or see the horror of the Sachsenhausen Concentration Camp and walk away the same person.  My soul is richer… and perhaps my voice may be as a result.  I am a deeper person with more to offer to my friends, my family, and my music.

A friend of mine from my undergraduate days at BU arrived in Berlin a few days ago for his own audition experience, and as we were catching up on the past seven years and the one month I had in Berlin before his arrival, he asked, “So what do you do around here?”  There are many things I have not seen or done in this city in ample time, so what do I do instead?  I get lost.  I get off the U-bahn at a random stop, lose myself in the city, and eventually find my way back.  Maybe that’s what this European experience is for me, an opportunity to get lost in a new place and find my way back to my old life with new perspective.  I felt lost in New York.  I felt like I was perpetually running into a wall and waiting for it to become a window.  I felt the need for a change, even if it was just to feel lost in a new environment.  And just like a little girl following her trail of breadcrumbs back home, I’ve picked up a lot along the way.  I have developed a taste for new foods, read many wonderful books, and bought way too many souvenirs.  More importantly, I’ve found a team of coaches to guide me and a wonderful community of expats to support me. I’ve stopped sucking in my gut and started listening to it. I’ve stopped listening to my sound and started experiencing my body creating it.  I’ve stopped listening to noise and started listening to my heart.

Though my metaphorical brötchen may help me find my way home, I’m still not sure where home will be for me in the long run.  Some days I wake up thinking I need to move here, some nights I go to bed dreaming of New York.  I’ve obsessed over this question to the point of insanity, but I’ve decided to just let it sit for at least another month, when I will know more about Europe and hopefully, about myself.  It is hard for me to let things sit, but perhaps that is just one more skill I’ve picked up along the way.  If I’m still lost in a month, I’ll just flip a coin. Heads: sausage, tails: sushi.

“Twenty years from now you will be disappointed by the things you didn’t do than by the ones you did. So throw off the bowlines. Sail away from the safe harbor. Catch the trade winds in your sails. Explore. Dream. Discover” ~ Mark Twain