Your Audition with Nanna

Dear Caroline,

We were all at Nanna’s apartment one day and you were going to sing for her. I think you might have told Nanna you liked to sing and she said go ahead, let me hear you.

You were young, maybe eight or nine, still new to singing, but already feeling strongly about it. I remember we were in her den. You were so pleased to be getting an opportunity for a new audience for your singing.

Nanna stayed seated on the sofa and you stood in front of her, hands clasped, and began to sing. It was probably one of those Disney songs you loved, something from “The Little Mermaid” or “Beauty and The Beast,” or maybe it was “Colors of the Wind,” a song you early on claimed as your own.

Whatever you sang, you went right into it like a little professional, all business. I looked at you and saw you focus so hard, your pitch perfect, your delivery heartfelt.
And then I looked at Nanna. She had tilted her head back, her nose in the air, her eyebrows raised.

Her look said, Go ahead with your song, impress me, I’ll be the judge.

I was none too crazy about the expression on her face. The look had a certain hauteur, as if you were auditioning for her and she were some kind of agent or producer or casting director. I hated her at that moment for having such a look on her face. As far as I was concerned, it was the wrong look.

After all, you were her little great-granddaughter. She should have watched you as a great-grandmother should, with absolute approval and affection, smiling and nodding her head up and down with encouragement.

But no, I kept you watching you, then watching her, all the while expecting her expression to change, to improve, to soften. Surely at some point Nanna would recognize your talent and ambition and signal her satisfaction.

But as you sang, her face stayed the same, judging you as if were a cadet going through your paces at West Point. After your song, she corrected your diction and told you how you should stand. I forgot what else she said, probably something like, “That was very nice, dear,” more mild and noncommittal than anything.

No matter. I wish she could hear you now. I wish she knew how much you’ve already accomplished in your career. That would show her. That would wipe that stupid look off her face.

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