Music Is My Sanctuary

4 Sep

by Maribel Steel

One Saturday morning, my dad sat at the kitchen table, flicking through the newspaper.

“Want to know what career you might like to do?” he asked, skimming through the employment section as I sat down. At fifteen, my family had received the diagnosis that I had Retinitis Pigmentosa and my career prospects seemed very limited.

My mum was stirring porridge on the stove and took a step closer to peer over dad’s shoulder. He ironed out the crease obscuring the print with a flattened palm and scanned the long columns. Taking a swig of hot tea, he read his summarised version.

“Teacher? No. Air-hostess? No. Secretary? No. Nurse? No. Hmm…”

My mum scooted back to the stove. Our enthusiasm dwindled rapidly as each job prospect was dismissed. Career options had been an uncomfortable subject to talk about, and as we searched for a solution, none of them seemed possible. I had to fight deep feelings of potential failure. I couldn’t let the new diagnosis of going blind smother my dreams.

My parents tried their best to compensate for my vision loss with material things, making my bedroom very comfortable. Mum cheered up the space by using blazing yellow wallpaper and new furniture. They installed a lavish stereo system, a portable black and white TV and even gave me a green phone to chat with my girlfriends after school.

Having my own oasis to escape to was really a wonderful gift of love. In the privacy of my room there were no roving eyes to catch me out when I bumped into the modular furniture or fumbled around looking for misplaced objects. The parental security camera didn’t operate here in my secluded haven.

I was free to seek comfort through my passion for music. I adored my collection of vinyl records and spent happy hours singing and imagining I was a famous pop singer. In my safe existential satellite, this imaginary world was my normal world. I didn’t have to compete with anyone, and I didn’t need eyes to sing.

Dreams of my up and coming stardom as Australia’s next Olivia Newton-John soared high on wings of hope as I sang harmonies to all her pop songs. So impressed by her double-barreled surname, that I felt compelled to dream up a stage name of my own.

‘Ladies and Gentlemen…introducing…the wonderful next queen of pop – Miss Adelyn Lindsey-Hayes.’

It seems comical to me now but I did use my fictitious name once when I auditioned for a small part in the musical, The King and I for a local production. The reply printed inside the envelope, offering me the role began with, “Dear Miss Hayes…”

I was tickled pink.

I didn’t become that famous pop-star but a song is never far from my heart.

“Use what talents you possess. The woods would be very silent if no birds sang there except those that sang best.” Anon

Maribel Steel is an author, writer, blogger, mother and vocalist. She lives in Melbourne, Australia with her partner and teenage son. She was diagnosed at fifteen with Retinitis Pigmentosa (RP). Maribel writes about places to feel, sounds and textures to explore as well as sharing insights on crafting The Art of Being Blind. She has self-published a book of short stories (memoir) and has several articles featured in various journals and blogs.

Read more about her at: www.maribelsteel.com and being a teaching artist at: http://www.gatewaytoblindness.blogspot.com

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