When I remember to pay attention to what I am doing, like I did for about forty-five minutes Thursday evening, I do better than I expect. The moment becomes experience over memory, rather than the other way around. I forget all but the vaguest outlines of how I did the last time.
There is just enough room, on top of all the muscle memory that goes into standing upright and holding the guitar so the sound it is making can be heard by the microphone six inches in front of it and putting my face six inches in front of the other microphone a little over two feet above the first one, to throw in a few new things: a filigree here, an extra lyric there.
There is time, afterward, to question why I started so slow and soft, and why I chose to open a gig for three perfectly happy gentlemen who appear to enjoy each others' musical company with a song called "Breaking Up The Band," a slow one imagined from Mick Jagger's perspective at hearing about Keith Richards' island face-plant. I do not think I meant to sabotage myself. Even so, I could have been a little more high-energy, better attuned to the attention span and rhythms around me.
Later on, I finish singing and playing. I get to sit down and have a beer. I take a bunch of pictures with my mobile. I watch a crowd beam and holler and clap along and hoist drinks. I watch a band show how to entertain a group of folks on a Thursday night. I gather my instruments afterward, shake hands with the players, accept a couple of graciously offered compliments, and walk the two blocks to my apartment, breathing in the late autumn air and exhaling relief and gratitude.