Sunday, August 26, 2012

Walking in L.A. - Wouldn't Change a Thing

It's the people who you meet when you're walking down the street — reason #173 that I love being car-free. If I were encased in a car, I would not hear the girl in front of me singing.  Badly.  I would not have the time to observe her stilted downhill stride, her perfectly bobbed black hair bouncing in time with her short steps. Then to look further, to see the girl just ahead of the crooner, holding tightly to the arm of a bigger boy to find her balance, her feet twist inward, their backpacks swing in unison with their awkward steps.

The crooner's singing grows louder as I quickly gain ground on the group and glimpse of her round face, her mouth open in a perfect circle as she sings, a CD player in her left hand. Her chunky headphones drown out the sound of my steps, the jarring noise of construction workers repairing potholes, the song of birds, the sound of her own voice.

She belts out Demi Lovato and Joe Jonas's "Wouldn't Change a Thing," holding out that last note on "thiiiiiinnng" like a cat that's losing a fight and crying for backup. It is bad. The construction workers hear it over their angry-sounding machines and stop working to identify the sound. She is awful, too loud and terribly off-key, and beautiful, she doesn't care. She sings like no one is listening.

Anne Lamott quotes Michael Pritchard when she writes that people with Down syndrome are God's spies  — perhaps here to see how we're living, how we're loving each other, and I think, to remind us to dance like no one is watching, to sing like no one is listening.  Because in the long run, who cares what two construction workers and a woman running to catch her bus think of your song?  As Demi, Joe Jonas, and my friend for my morning commute sing to us:

"We're perfectly imperfect
But I wouldn't change a thing, no."

Tam tam dance, originally uploaded by Victor Vargas.

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