When I was a freshman in high school I was a choir nerd. Okay, umm, when I was a freshman, sophomore, junior and senior in high school, I was a choir nerd. But my freshman year, I was a shy choir nerd. I wanted to show the director that I could sing, but I was afraid to put myself out there. I lucked out when he gave me a solo for the spring concert. It was actually sort of a duet, and my partner was the new boy…and I had a crush on him…and he had a crush on me…and we were both shy. Needless to say, it took quite awhile for us to get together.

One afternoon, the director went to his office to make a phone call and he told us we could have the rest of class to do whatever we wanted. The boy sat down at the piano and started playing random chords. One of my friends said, “why don’t you sing a song for Nikol…you know you want to.” He looked at me and winked. I blushed. a lot. (sidenote: I don’t know what it is about a wink, but when a guy I like winks at me, my stomach flips. Maybe because guys don’t wink anymore. Maybe because it’s so egotistical and cocky, and I find it completely charming. Anyway…this time my stomach did a swan dive.) He stopped playing, sat in silence for a minute, and then started playing “She’s Got a Way” by Billy Joel. He sang through the entire song and looked right at me the entire time. That was the day I fell in love with him.

The spring concert rolled around, and I was nervous. I walked down to the microphone for our duet, and he was standing to my left. I could feel him looking at me, but between the fact that he was looking at me and the fact that this was my first time in the spotlight, I was shaking. He grabbed my hand and said, “hey. Are you ok?” I looked up at him and he smiled, “Just breathe. It’s gonna be fine.”

We did great. We always did great…our voices blended like voices that belonged together. We just fit. That night was the beginning of a duet that lasted eight years.

I look back at that boy I used to know and I wonder if he’s still charming. I wonder if I saw him, if my stomach would still flip up into my ribcage. I wonder a lot of things, but after all this time, I think back to what he said to me that night.

“Just breathe. It’s gonna be fine.”

It’s not a duet this time, and there’s more at stake when it’s a solo…will people like it? Will I be happy with my performance? What if it becomes a duet? Will we blend like that? Will we be great? But I can hear the words, still…and I know they’re true. So I just concentrate on breathing.