In the past, I've written odes to Taylor Hicks. His musicality, his heart and soul, his apparent kindnesses and goodheartedness, the way he has touched so many people in so many ways. Well, tonight is the final AI concert, and it occurs to me that I have never blogged the one thing that touched me the most during this amazing odyssey. This night, being the turning point in his career, seems like the right moment. Please be advised that the contents of this blog are of a highly personal nature, and may not be suited to everyone.
I am dedicating this blog to my beloved friends of the Soul Patrol. How many times have I written in emails, in chatrooms, on forums, what the Soul Patrol has meant to me? Countless, I'm sure. And I know my friends will have heard many of these sentiments from me in the past. Heck, I'm not exactly known for my ability to restrain my thoughts and emotions here, am I? How things have changed in a few short months, because before this, I was remarkably closemouthed about myself and my life.
Before ... it was a lifetime ago ... I remember that night so clearly. I am not a tv person, but that night ... I turned it on to keep me company while I finished up some laundry. I hated AI at that point - the auditions in particular, because I can't stand seeing people be humiliated in the manner that the show seemed to relish. It may be the teacher in me, or perhaps personal experience, but it just rubs me the wrong way. I remember I was folding one of my husband's workshirts when I heard the voice. It was not just any voice. It called to me in a way only a few have in my lifetime. I froze, straining to hear from the next room. I listened until I heard that he had been given a gold ticket, then I shook it off and went back to work. But it didn't end there. Oh no, it was only the beginning.
A couple weeks later, during my preparation period at school, I found myself looking at the American Idol website for the first time in my life. I was wracked with guilt at doing it during school hours, but there was a force stronger than my will pulling me to it. I had missed the Hollywood rounds and I didn't even know his NAME at that point, or what he looked like, only that there was someone there who was worth listening to. And I needed to find out MORE!
There was no guessing. It was almost eery how I knew, the minute I saw his picture. No one else fit the voice. That voice never left my head in all the weeks that followed. In mid-February, I discovered the message boards, and on Feb. 28, I signed on for the first time. I didn't waste my precious time looking at anything else. I was a woman on a mission. I needed to know there were other people out there who had heard what I did. I went straight to the Taylor Hicks forum, and there I stayed.
Boy, did I find them! The boards were a fascinating blend of people from everywhere. I got so caught up in them sometimes that I forgot there was a reality waiting for me when I left them. And gradually, I got to know some of the people. By mid-March, I was a regular, although I was involved only during the day, because we had no computer at home. By the time the show was over in May, I had made some close, lifetime friends, the likes of which I had not known since high school, or university days. As time wore on, I found myself growing closer and more open with these people than I could ever have with my friends in real life.
Here, I need to clarify something. I was, at the time, living an existence that was, at best, less than I had imagined for myself. Don't get me wrong, I have a child who is everything a mother could dream of, a job that is fulfilling and rewarding, two beautiful, soft-hearted dogs and a comfortable home. Unfortunately, there was an axe hanging over my head that, although I had learned accept and to live with it, caused me great stress and anxiety on a daily basis. Many women live in much worse situations than I, though, so I had resigned myself to it, believing it to be my lot in life, my cross to bear for being so lucky in other things. See, mostly, I counted myself fortunate, and if I had to adapt my life to it, well, it could be worse.
Well, then, of course, it did get worse, but I had fooled myself into believing that it was my fault that it did, that somehow I had caused it to happen. I didn't know what to do. No one here at home knew of my "domestic situation" so, in desperation, I "talked" to someone online. That person (and you know who you are) changed my life. I had never told anyone before of the fear that was a fact of my daily life. And once I told that one person, it was easier to tell another, who convinced me to take action. The road to my emancipation has not been an easy one. My parents still question my decision. Some of my friends here have chosen to withdraw from the unpleasantness. My husband has not been ... cooperative. At times, the odds seemed overwhelmingly against me. Sometimes I thought I would completely alienate the friends whom I had grown to love because, frankly, I have been an emotional mess. But they stood steadfastly at my side through the worst of times.
The battle is far from over, but I am strong now, and my friends are still there helping me every day. Sometimes it's just an offhand comment on the Yahoo group, on my blog, or a mention of hitmen on chat ... but I rarely get an opportunity to tell them what it has meant to me. So now, openly and baldly, on this, a turning point in Taylor's career, I would like to state to a very special group of friends: you were not only there giving me your support whenever I needed it, you were the actual catalysts for the changes I have made in my life. Some of you mean more to me than you will ever know, because of the role you have played since we met. I feel very passionately that I owe my life to those of you who have helped me through this. To think I might never have met you if not for that voice I heard on the tv ... and couldn't forget.