It was 1996. I lived in Jakarta. I was intent on living a life worth cartooning. (That comic strip, “In the House of Sin,” was drawn with a no. 2 brush, India ink and cream colored paper I would love to find again but can’t seem to.)
That was the year I listened way too much to Jill Sobule. A song called “(Theme From) The Girl in the Affair,” in particular, might as well have been tattooed on my arm:
“Our love is freedom, our love is free from
all those married things that raise their ugly heads
Our love is distant, there’s no commitment
there might be something better up ahead instead
Our love is so safe, you live in another state
it’s just a sad, sad fate
to be the girl in the affair.”
I loved her music. I never thought I would meet her in person, or see her play live.
In the oddest confluence of events, I ended up meeting her, hugging her, and standing beside her in awe as she made up a song on the spot using my lyrics – thanks to Lowe. Thanks to my agency network, I got to meet one of my music heroines last week. The universe folds, and suddenly my 26-year old self and I are staring at each other through horizons and horizons of events, and the song playing is familiar to both of us:
“Here I am, holding on to childhood’s dream,
climbing down the apple tree,
waking as you pull the covers off of me.
The jig is up.”
The Lowe Institute is an annual inspiration-collaboration workshop run by Teresa Alpert, a brilliant woman who radiates energy and enthusiasm like few people I know. We had tea on the Highline the day before the workshop and she told me, I have an amazing friend who’ll be part of the workshop, a singer-songwriter, you’ll love her. I asked, who? Teresa said, Jill Sobule. I couldn’t believe it.
Jill opened the workshop with stories and songs. Her honesty was bracing and her openness an inspiration in itself. She packed us off for 30 minutes to write lyrics about our first love, or a love that was important to us. We were 21 people and she improvised music to our lyrics, for each and every one of us. She was an outpouring of art, craft, and heart.
These were my lyrics:
A sketch of Jill and Teresa rehearsing their song:
The end-of-day video, featuring “If I Had a Jetpack,” which Jill sang for us live:
Don’t you want more days like this? I do.