So this week, our assignment was to think about and record dreams that have come true in our lives. Thinking about it, the fulfillment of one small dream influenced all the other dreams I ever had.
The first thing that came to my mind was I got married and had a family.
I got into and graduated from college.
When I was little, my big dream was to become an opera singer.
And there were a lot of little dreams along the way, stepping stones along the way to the big dream of becoming an opera singer.
Auditions I would succeed at, etc.
I got into the summer rec productions of Grease and the Music Man in high school (The Music Man, to this day, remains my favorite musical).
I got into select chorus in high school.
And then, I got into a show called Melodies of Christmas my sophomore year in high school. The show is performed by the Empire State Youth Orchestra and Empire State Youth Chorale (I was in Chorale). I had always admired the show, a fundraiser for the pediatric oncology unit at the Albany Medical Center. I had always wanted to go see it. And it was broadcast on local TV!
I remember getting the letter and screaming and jumping around the post office. It was the day of our homecoming pep rally.
And when I really think back about it, that one dream come true is the one that most greatly influenced my life!
It was there that I met my best friend, and my daughter's godmother.
It was there that I found out about the New York State Summer School of the Arts, and when my voice teacher brought the auditions to my attention, I immediately applied, auditioned, and, the summer after my junior year, was accepted.
Once I got into NYSSSA, things really started happening.
I met a professor there named Everett McCorvey, and was immediately greatly impressed by him. He was so knowledgeable, and had such enthusiasm, and had such great rapport with us kids. In a panel discussion that the instructors did on careers in music, I found out that Dr. McCorvey had done his training at the University of Alabama.
Well, I raved about him to my parents.
My dad said, "Did you say he went to the University of Alabama?"
I said, "Yes."
He said, "Well, get back down there and find out if he knew your Uncle Bill!"
Uncle Bill was my father's first wife's uncle, the youngest brother of my third grandma, Grandma Topley. Uncle Bill and his wife, Aunt Belle, had been to visit us several times in my youth when they were up from Tuscaloosa. Uncle Bill had been the head of the music department at Alabama for many, many years.
So I asked Doc if he had known Uncle Bill, and he said, "You know Bill Steven?"
"He was my great-uncle," I said.
Turns out it was Bill Steven who had convinced a young Everett McCorvey to change his major from baritone horn to voice.
Dr. McCorvey was now on the faculty at the University of Kentucky.
Not 30 days after I got home from NYSSSA, I had a huge packet of information from UK. "Dr. Everett McCorvey, with whom you studied at the New York State Summer School of the Arts, recommended that we send you this information," the cover letter said.
That fall, I made a list of schools I wanted to audition for.
"Where is that Dr. McCorvey?" my father asked me. "I liked him."
"The University of Kentucky," I said.
"You should put that on your list. You gotta go where you got the in's," he said.
So I put UK on my list, along with six other schools. My parents said I had to narrow it down to five. So I crossed out the one with the highest application fee and the one with the strictest audition requirements.
UK made the short list.
And, as Dad and I traveled to my different audition sites we were gradually narrowing down the list.
Hartt and Crane, I didn't get enough financial aid.
Shenandoah, the auditions were so disorganized, I was thoroughly disgusted.
Eastman, I didn't get in (but I didn't like it once I got there anyway; I know that sounds like sour grapes, but I really didn't feel like I fit in there).
So in a way, the decision was made for me. Kentucky, it was.
And I fell in love with Lexington, so, several years after I graduated, I moved back.
And it was there that I met my husband, who gave me my child...