As you already know, I spent the past weekend in Cochrane with one of my dearest friends. One of those friends who, despite the miles and the years and the changes, can speak to my soul and make me feel at home no matter where we are in the world or what life is throwing at us.
That friend is my Sku.
We’ve been friends since we were 13 years old, lived together, worked together, created nicknames and secret languages together. We share so much in common, yet we’ve never really fought. She’s my kindred, my common ground, even with our differences. And this past weekend, I was so blessed to have her shine more light into my life.
I decided to stay with my Sku because she lives close enough to the race course that it was a perfect excuse for extra visiting! The almost-4 hour travel time means grabbing these opportunities when I can!! But the weekend was so much more than just sleeping and running.
She taught me to jam
I’ve been musical for most of my life. I can play the piano, the saxophone, and the flute…although it’s been years for most of them. I’m sure I’d pass out if I tried to get through any song on the sax or flute…or my jaw would seize up! One of the things I admire most about my Sku is her voracious passion for music. She has learned almost everything under the sun: piano, percussion, drums (all kinds! not just drum kits!), violin, guitar, banjo…! She has written more songs than I can name, and has even placed in the Calgary Folk Music Festival songwriters’ competitions! She records her music, and she teaches as well. When she moved to her new home, I was in awe of her entire room dedicated to music.
It’s one of my biggest regrets: not continuing to practice music as an adult. The problem lies in my instruments of choice. While the piano is beautiful, it just isn’t functional for me. It takes up space and it isn’t portable. You just can’t take a piano camping! And each new piece of music takes time and effort to learn. The saxophone and flute? Well…they’re lovely in a group, but I have very little opportunity to meet with a jazz band to keep my skills from rusting. So, for awhile, I’ve wondered if I could ever learn to play the guitar.
After my race on Saturday, we went out to the gorgeous sprawling ranch home of one of her banjo classmates. I expected a dozen or so people, and some low-key plucking away at songs. Instead, I was met with over 60 people (easily), half of whom played some sort of instrument. There were a dozen fiddlers, at least 6 guitars, mandolins, ukeleles, autoharps, upright basses, and of course, banjos.
There was also this incredible 9-year old kid with spoons.
But what was more amazing than seeing all of these musicians was hearing them. Sitting in a room no bigger than our kitchen/dining room, one person would call out a song, and everyone would pick up and play. Some would also sing. The energy of the live music surrounded me as the notes flowed through the air. I felt light-headed at times, listening to songs from the 1890’s all the way through to songs from my childhood. At one point, I had to fight back tears from the beauty of the music.
I felt alive.
So I summoned up my courage and asked my Sku to teach me. And she did! Sitting in her living room the next morning, she patiently walked me through my first guitar lesson. Within the half hour, my fingers and wrists were aching as she coached me through a disjointed, slow “Going to the Zoo”! The whole song! It was incredible!!
Even more incredible was when she offered to lend me one of her guitars so that I could keep practicing at home. And I have been! Each day, I take her guitar out of the case, tune it slowly, and begin to pluck away… G, G, D, G…strum, strum, strum. Pause, change, strum, pause, change, strum. Slowly learning to master a new art.
Something so simple, but made so much more beautiful at the hands of a beloved friend. These moments that might be so meaningless are made special because of that bond and that history. The lack of judgment is so refreshing in a world of drama. My soul is so full after this weekend.
I am so blessed to have a Sku in my life.