Thank you for
For keeping me company Seasoned
Spoke of blood orange
Bicycle spokes festooned with yellow-red-yellow ribbons
For lost voice
Great Adventurer for
Your company, as my internal turbulence kept
Muttered prayers, twisting fingers and shallow breath constant, urgent.
Betrayed by fear.
‘It’s hard to stay
so afraid’ I said.
You, blue-eyed woman who plays with
Radio therapy, crinkle smooth blue-tinged skin, butterfly translucent smile and with bent bejewelled fingers
Take my hand.
How did I get here?
I guess when you start something you never know how it will end. It does, of course, always end in that it changes, or at least changes direction within the roads of your life, and if you, like me, always choose ‘the one less travelled by, and that has made all the difference’ then you will understand that the adventure is the growing bit, and that there is never an end in sight.
I knew this would probably be the last time I went to Georgia. The turbulence was awful and I tried very hard not to see it as a bad sign. The first time I had gone in September 2009 had been the result of taking a less trodden path earlier in 2007 when I went to a festival where, on the programme of events was a workshop in Gregorian Chant. At least that’s what I read it as. It turned out to be Georgian singing, what ever that was. But, what ever it was, I was hooked. As a Reiki Healer I was used to experiencing the higher vibrations of meditational voice work but this was incredible, it was life affirming and uplifting in a way I had never known before. I sang Georgian songs all week. Even now I cannot listen to Tsinstskaro https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Vu3boYzcBuo without being transported back to that magical summer.
After the festival I joined several choirs – rock, gospel, choral, but nothing, nothing spoke to me like this incredible sound. I felt like I had been shown something really special only to have it taken away from me and could not commit to any other type of singing.
A year and a half went by.
The weekend of my 40th birthday, I went to Whitby for the weekend with my son and our dog. On the way we stopped at Old Mother Shipton’s Cave where wishes for a penny thrown into the water that petrifies everything it touches were deposited with a sigh.’ Please let there be a way for me to sing Georgian music’. I wished out loud. My penny was steeped in this energy wish as I flicked it into the magical pool.
Amazingly, when I got back, full of salt air, ice-cream and fish and chips there was, unbelievably, an e-mail from the guy who had delivered the workshops at the festival! He was setting up a Georgian choir in Leeds, would I like to come along? You know sometimes you can literally hear a door swing open? It was like that. I felt a great rush of openness, of clarity, an excitement that just bubbled and bubbled and bubbled.
Of course I would go. I was teaching full time at the time so rushed from school to make it to the first rehearsal. It was amazing and as powerful as I remembered it being. If I was hooked before I had definitely been landed now. The problem was that the choir rehearsed on a weekday afternoon. I had been thinking of going part time for a while so that clinched it for me. The next day I went into school and negotiated a part time contract making sure I was free to sing Georgian song.
Foolish? Perhaps. Impetuous, not really. I was very unhappy at work to the point where I was starting to become ill so it seemed the best way forward.
As a choir we were invited to London to sing as part of the Cheveneburebi Festival that coincided with Georgian Independence Day May 26th. As part of a group of English choirs, mostly from the south who had been formed in the mid 1980s when Edisher Garakanidze first visited the UK, we were inexperienced but keen and something impressed the organisers so much we were invited to go to Georgia to be part of the festival there in September.
I had seen him in London. He and his choir were impressive, young, full of energy and intensity that was both frightening and magnetic. They came to Leeds after the London concert to perform and I was drawn to him as one is drawn to look over a high cliff. It felt exactly like that, I wanted to test how close I could get to the dangerous edge trusting the earth would hold me as I crept closer and closer to the sheer drop.
That very first morning in Georgia, he was there. It was to be the beginning of the most turbulent journey of my life.