I love to sing.
In fact, if I hadn't decided years ago to pursue a career in journalism, my dream job would probably be as a country singer.
This is the part where I should pause to allow certain readers to laugh out loud at the concept. I'm somewhat used to that, I suppose. After all, I've had the singing sickness for years, dating back to my childhood.
I remember being about 10 years old, and singing to myself while riding the school bus. Then, one Christmas, while I was in junior high, I had my first "stereo."
The reason I put that word in quotation marks, is because in retrospect, it was a truly primitive machine, but one that looked plausible enough at the time. At any rate, I spent countless hours singing along to my favorite songs, with the radio blaring. One might think having deaf parents facilitated my obsession. However, I played my music so loud, my mom and dad could feel the vibrations on the walls.
I can recall several occasions during my teenage years, when I would act as if I were performing a song for an audience, completely oblivious that my father was watching me. He laughed so hard once I finally saw him. I didn't care. I looked for any excuse I could find, if it meant I was able to sing something.
As I grew older, I developed other reasons to perform songs. My best friend is a talented singer and songwriter, and he and I performed songs regularly, with our closest friends as an audience. I sang, years ago, at the wedding of two good friends.
And, of course, whenever there was a girl I wanted to impress, I'd find a song to sing for her. Part of the reason I did that, in all honesty, was probably to feed my ego, when the girl told me she liked my voice.
After I turned 21 and had more venues available to me, I began to visit various places that had karaoke on the weekends. Since then, I've become even more hooked.
I don't think that has as much to do with the idea that I need an audience, as much as with the fact that singing is my form of release at the end of a long week.
Lately, I haven't had as many opportunities to feed my singing obsession as I'd like.
The radio in my car doesn't work. I can't play my radio at home as loudly as I used to, unless I want to make my neighbors mad. I still sing karaoke when I can, but with gas prices being what they are, I can't always spare the money to drive all the way to Conyers, where all my favorite singing spots are.
The other side of that, to which my wife can attest, is that I get really whiny when I am forced to go an entire week without a microphone in my hand. Fortunately for me, the story doesn't end there. I recently discovered a restaurant, not far from my apartment, that has karaoke one night a week.
Even though the setting was unfamiliar, and the song selection vastly different from that which I'm used to, I found some songs I recognized. I sang a few of them, listened to my wife perform a few others, and had a great time.
With my passion for music fed once again, I sit here at my desk, wondering why I crave singing so much. After all, it doesn't pay anything, and I'm probably too old and too busy these days, to pursue a singing career, anyway.
Besides, I enjoy what I do, and hope to continue doing so for a long time to come.
Still, there's no other feeling, for me, like singing in front of people, and communicating my love of performing to them.
I admit that I'm obsessed with singing, but I hope I'm doing it for the right reasons. It's not about money, or fame, or pats on the back. It's about the music, and how it allows me to connect with others, if only for a few minutes at a time.
Jason A. Smith covers crime and courts for the Henry Daily Herald. He can be reached at (770) 957-9161, or via e-mail at firstname.lastname@example.org.