It wasn't until recently, when I truly began my adult life living on my own, supporting myself, working, etc. that I began to truly appreciate these secret gatherings. Music has always been a deeply personal art for me. I took classical piano for twelve or so years, sitting by myself in the practice room for hours. During those hours I began to fiddle with writing my own compositions, first classically and then folk-ily. I would sing my heart out while banging away on the piano, momentarily blanking out the rest of the world that was only separated from me by thin, white walls and the sound of my own music.
Those thin walls were the first thing that let other people hear my music, whether they wanted to or not. Sometimes music major friends of mine would come in to see who it was, or would say hello when I came out. Slowly, I began to bashfully invite people in while I played. At first it was just my family, but then I took a deep breath and moved on to close friends.
My breakthrough came when I brought my guitar to the Falcon Ridge Folk Festival for the first time, after my entire life spent going to listen to other people play music. That was where I got my first taste of the music community. I had performed before, in camp talents shows and music recitals, but there's something different about sitting in a group of people, none of whom are professional musicians, and just seeing what comes out.
I've finally come to a point where my hands don't shake every time I try to play in front of people, and I can finally listen to recordings of myself while only cringing instead of running out of the room. As I settle into my new life in Boston, I've become part of a jam group that meets after work in living-rooms and basements as we all hold onto the childish glee that comes with simply making music. I continue to write my songs, which have slowly but surely gotten better, and for now, that's enough.