I went back and read what I wrote about my 2020 NJCL performance and found the following:
"The NJCL Convention next July 2021 is scheduled to be in San Diego and I hope by then we'll be able to travel and be in rooms together listening to music. But I wouldn't be surprised if we can't yet."
So... I guess I "shouldn't be surprised" that my 2021 NJCL performance was done from my living room, again, over Zoom.
After the overwhelming experience of my journey to Alaska to perform Homer in Homer, it was almost inevitable this one would feel prosaic by comparison.
But as I began performing, I found my voice in a strong place and that, even sitting in my living room alone singing into my computer, I was connecting with the story in an emotional way.
As I sang I thought about how there are numerous ways to split up my nearly 20 year journey of performing the Odyssey. One of them is pre- and post-NJCL and this was my 10th (straight) NJCL convention.
The numbers 20 and 10 carry special significance in the Odyssey: Odysseus is gone a total of 20 years, his journey home takes up 10 of those.
My first NJCL Convention in 2012 at Wake Forest feels both like forever ago and just the other day. I've done so much since then but can also remember every detail of those shows in North Carolina. I remember running down to the performance space in the rain, fussing with the sound in an unfamiliar room, and settling on performing without a microphone. I remember being disappointed that my first audience was so small but elated when that audience erupted in a standing ovation after I sang. I remember going to Walgreens to buy a marker to sign CDs at the Bazaar and having students lined up at my table to purchase said autographed CDs. I remember meeting a lot of the folks who still support my work every year through the NJCL (and other gatherings). I remember the audience at each successive show growing larger through word-of-mouth. I remember leaving Wake Forest with an invitation to perform at UNLV for the following year's NJCL.
I finished up my living room performance and turned to the chat for questions. The students and teachers did not disappoint: they never do at JCL events. I talked about Odysseus as a "hero," my creative process, and how my performance changed in response to the pandemic. It was a lovely discussion with a great group. That very teacher who in 2012 invited me to perform at UNLV attended this year's virtual show with a bunch of her students.
And then... I was done with NJCL 2021.
I'm going to try this again:
The NJCL Convention next July 2022 is scheduled to be in Lafayette, Louisiana, and I know by then we'll be able to travel and be in rooms together listening to music.
And I can't wait for that day.