Sometimes on Saturdays, we sunbathed in the yard next to the dorm. Well, the girls who could tan sunbathed, and I slathered myself with 45 and sat outside to belong. Lora had the most amazing skin: she was California-blonde and blue-eyed, but her skin turned a rich shade of gold after two minutes of UV…I was jealous, but I loved her so much, I let it go.

All the rooms in the two-story dorm opened into a gigantic atrium kind of thing—it didn’t have a skylight, so I’m hesitant to call it an atrium—and occasionally when we were feeling crazy, someone would turn up their Petra or DC Talk to Danger and we’d dance like maniacal druids on the walkway that circled the second floor, ignoring any chance of permanent damage to our hearing. As if any of us knew how to dance. We were Christians, duh, so dancing was a sin that had been purged from us long ago. But we wanted to own it again, you see, like girls who have been robbed of an innocence, trying to recover by exhausting that part of us that resisted.

In a spring rugby game against St. Mary’s, my brother got a concussion. He came off the field with crossed eyes, spouting important facts like “Brown cows taste best,” and I walked him down the hill to the hospital for X-rays, crying the whole way. (He recovered in record time, and was pissed that the coach wouldn’t let him play the rest of the game.) I can’t recall ever being more frightened, fearing I would lose my only sibling, scared he would babble about choice cattle for the rest of his life. He still loves a good steak.

We had a band. Witness, it was called, if you can stand it. We firmly believed we were the sh*t, and perhaps we were in that time and place. Cerissa was a far better singer than I, but I would not admit it even to myself; identity must be preserved at all costs. We practiced 2nd Chapter of Acts and Boyz 2 Men songs as if our lives depended on it, not contemplating for a second that our missionary-boarding-school renditions might be anything short of perfection…which was, of course, great training for years of musical missteps to come. Can you believe I thought I was a soprano?

On choir tour before graduation, we sang at an orphanage. The concert lasted all of 22 minutes, but we stayed for hours, holding close those children who would not let us go. One tiny boy with a misshapen face and no legs latched onto me, refusing to relinquish the touch he had craved in all his short memory, even when it was time to change his diaper. He peed on me. The Kikuyu nurse laughed, murmuring “baraka” as she pried his fingers away to change him. Blessing.

19 thoughts on “1993

  1. Morphea

    First of all, people, I was not and AM not and NEVER WILL BE a better singer than Aly (for god’s sake). [I'm sorry if you're trying to protect my anonymity by using my old name, but this must addressed immediately and in a public setting.] We’re very, very different singers. Aly was much more polished than I, for instance, and “pitch” was a fleeting and relative concept for me. Egad. I wasn’t even comparing (for once) because Al was the top dawg soprano (by default, since she actually could – and probably still can – hit a C above high C with frightening regularity) and I was The Alto in Choir, Witness and the year after that, Selah. Remember, Aly, when Bannister put me in Soprano I with you and I muttered “I can’t, I can’t DO this, can’t hit THAT note, can’t hit THAT one…” before every song? I have the recordings to prove (oh, yes, Aly, and I’m not afraid to use them) that A. We WERE the sh*t, and B. Aly and I were too different to compare and both awesome and C. I couldn’t even hit an E above high C without cracking. Ironic that classical training turned ME into a soprano.
    And Lora was a golden goddess but you’re right, you couldn’t help but love her. And remember Maggie blasting Boyz 2 Men out into the not-atrium and howling along to “The End of the Road”, but in Swahili? Good times, good times.

  2. aly hawkins Post author

    Silly girl. It doesn’t matter whether you were better or you weren’t: I believed somewhere deep down that you were. These are all just snapshots of feelings I had that year, and your talent was a part of that – a big part!
    But thanks for the vote of confidence. :)

  3. Morphea

    You’re right, I am silly. Does it help at all that deep down I thought the same thing about you? I’m an idiot – sorry to yap at what is indeed your take on that year. Not mine.
    I’m still glad to be able to inform your friends, though, that you opinion was all wrong. [smile] Singer’s egos – gotta love ‘em.

  4. Stick

    I wonder how many Christian groups have had the name Selah. Of course, now there’s the big time one, but I too was part of a group called Selah during my formative years. My Mom and Dad and younger sister and I made up this powerhouse of musical excellence… I was 12, with a good 5 or 6 years of piano lessons under my belt, so I was the arranger. Mom played guitar, but literally has almost no sense of pitch or rhythm. She would have to play strum patterns that had either an up or down on every 8th or she was in trouble. Dad sang… pretty well, for a Catholic choir kid from back in the day, and my sister was still pretty young, and could sort of sing.
    Put it it this way, our “ministry” was about families. Not about the music… of course, we probably thought it was the other way around.
    Anyway, we called ourselves Selah.
    Back on the subject, ’93 was a good year for me… top dog at school, graduation, met my girl in July, and married her at Christmas time.

  5. Morphea

    I think Selah was one of my ideas during the protracted and difficult brainstorming sessions of what to call ourselves. I’m still not sure how I bullied the group into it. We pronounced it “SAY-lah”, by the way. [chuckle] Wish we’d stuck with “Witness” now.
    My college band names were not my fault. The Xian rock cover band I fronted was called Fortress and the Xian POP cover band the year after that was called Chrysalis. My Ramon and I were two of the six lead singers in that band. Oh, the memories.

  6. HASH

    You guys were BOTH awesome singers. Us tone-deaf ones really appreciated what you were able to do. I personally really liked the Selah group, I even had a tape of it that I listened to for a couple years after we graduated. Who knows, it might still be around, buried in some old trunk somewhere. :) Also, your bro was going to be a good ruge player. Since I didn’t know him past 93, I’m not sure if he did become one or not…

    So, what caused these memories? It must have been something since you generated a nice healthy post about it.


  7. Chad

    Someday Zack and I are going to start a CCM glam rock band called Thunderboyz. The 1st release will be entitled “All God’s Kidz wanna Rawk.”

    Ash, you may indeed be the frontman.

  8. aly hawkins Post author

    Cerise, the year before you came to Rift, the band to be in was “Bondservant.” God. I think horrible band names are a right of passage for musicians. Like circumcision.
    Hash, I have no idea where this stuff came from. I sat down last night to work on my ongoing writing project, and this came out instead. As for my brother, he did indeed turn into a good ruge player. I believe was captain of the team in ’95. He’s still incredibly tough – he’s in the Navy, and jumps out of helicopters to save people’s lives.
    Chad, I think you mean “Rokk.”

  9. Morphea

    Yeah, “Rawk” looks too much like “squawk”. I don’t think Jesus’d like it.
    Al, I was SO MAD I couln’t have come a year earlier and been in Bondservant. The pictures of you guys (I think you’re leaning on Mwangi and clutching a tambourine?) looked so cooool.

  10. ash

    Chad, thanks for thinking of me but I’m already tied up in a Christian mime cover band and am in pre-production for a tribute to Carmen. I’m pretty much booked solid through ’09.

  11. jeremy

    Thanks for the essay, Aly. I, too, have strong associations with the year 1993. It was a very formative year for me. Not to date your or me, I was 13 and in the midst of my adolescent transition. As I changed, so did my body and I became a pudgy teenager. Not overly so, but enough to illicit very nasty words from my peers. I was known in Junior High and early High School by those words, but they formed my identity for the next decade.
    I still have flashbacks of those years. I still suffer the ramifications of those attacks. Thankfully, though, my Abba has healed and repaired the broken pieces of my heart over the years, so I now find my identity in Him rather than within or without myself. It’s amazing how the past strangles the present.
    be His,

  12. Morphea

    Bobby – you don’t know! Maybe Ash’s doing a tribute to Bizet’s opera. Huh? Huh?! Just kidding, bra. Ash, which is it?
    My husband used to do big, theatrical lip-synchs to Carman’s stuff, involving his entire youth group (he was usually Carman, of course, though he did step down during “The Champion” to play a humble demon). Costumes, props, arm-waving, the whole bit. It’s still weird to watch my reserved, then-teenaged husband playing Carman…For one of Carman’s Christmas…talky-musical-theatre-things [what do you call them? Those intense numbers where he talks a great deal to soaring music?], Ramon actually had someone’s REAL newborn in his arms (playing Baby Jesus) and was gesturing with one hand, walking over the stage and holding the kid in the other arm. Wow. Those AOGs are game, man.

  13. Stick

    The correct pronounciation is “SEE-luh”. At least that how we were convinced it was pronounced.

    The short-lived band I was in for a while right during and after college was “Entourage”. Ugh. I was cool though, because they were in DC they would fly me out periodically…

  14. Morphea

    “Are you ready to RAWK, D.C.??? I am STICK….and this is my ENTOURAGE. One! Two! Three! Four!”
    I know it’s pronounced SEE-lah, dude. That’s what makes our old group even nerdier. We thought it would be COOLER to pronounce it the other way, I think. Oh, the humanity.

  15. ash

    Cerise, though I am quite fond of Bizet, I must admit that it is Mr. Licciardello of whom I speak. He’s my champion.

    Bobby, I know you said “don’t ask” but…

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