I get to go to the Lincoln's Birthday Singing at the U of C Folk Festival today. Whee! And it's not ten below outside, like it was last year, double whee! And Richard DeLong is giving a singing school, triple whee!
The Lincoln's Birthday Singing is always a special one for me, because it was the first Chicago singing I ever attended. I'd been in Chicago all of maybe two weeks in 2000, knew almost nobody, but I knew enough to call the HARP line (all together now: 773-276-HARP!) and it told me where there would be singing. And I knew that, if I could get to this mysterious Ida Noyes Hall way way down on the South Side, I would find the friends that I knew were waiting for me in this enormous city. So, armed with directions from the CTA, I moseyed down to Hyde Park, found the room with the singing in it, and signed up to lead in front of fifty people I'd never met. By the end of three hours, I'd made some friends, and been invited to the Thursday night Hyde Park singings, and decided that, hey, fun adventure that I could tell Dad Pony about.
It's now 2008. The people I met at that singing have become some of my dearest and closest friends, the ones that I worry about when I don't see them, and who throw caution to the wind to come and take care of me when I'm suddenly sick.
Every year, I go to this singing, which draws lots of curious newcomers because it's a workshop at a well-attended folk festival. Most of the newcomers won't come again, but one never knows. Maybe another new face will turn out to be someone seeking the community she knows is out there for her. The Lincoln's Birthday Singing is a time to say "welcome." It welcomed me, and I'm always glad to be part of the welcome for the next people who come along. And no pesky exploding internal organs are going to stop me!
Gotta go wash up now and get going. . .