Giving Up

One all-nighter a year.

At least once a year, I find myself needing to stay up twenty-four hours straight to get a job done. Guess that’s what happens when you freelance. And procrastinate.

It’s not healthy. I went to sleep at eight in the morning yesterday, then woke up at two in the afternoon. Not a great idea when I had to play music for my girlfriend’s school fundraiser the next day.

I used to lead worship at my uncle’s church once a month. The more I did it, the less planning there was. My best friend Timmy and I would figure out the closing song five minutes before we went up on stage. We just improvised. Felt the moment. I thought playing for a middle school would be the same.

Except nothing worked. The guitar I was provided didn’t connect to the amplifier. Battery dead. None of the music stands looked safe enough to put my laptop on. We had no monitor. Worst of all, we didn’t practice. At all. And Jenine and I had to play for an hour.

What ended up happening was I played several of the simplest four-chord pop songs while Jenine sang. It wasn’t a bad start. However, twenty minutes in, I felt the fatigue. I had barely eaten and my knees were weak.

So I stopped playing.

“Just play some Youtube songs,” I told Jenine.

I sat down. Started using my phone. I’ve never been at one of these fundraisers before, but apparently people walk around and bid on stuff. Maybe the school could buy some new music stands.

For the next half an hour, I slouched in a corner with a numbness in my brain. This is awful. I was supposed to help my girlfriend with her job, have some fun playing music together in the process. Instead, nothing worked.

And I had given up.

We fought in the car for about half an hour afterwards. Fighting is always weird. You know the two of you will either end up reconciling or become more distant. Every word counts. But you’re tired and fueled by pure emotion. And it’s even more dangerous to leave any hanging threads. Unresolved conflict will lead to more problems down the road.

In hindsight, I’m able to analyze all that. In the moment, we were lucky to come to an understanding that even though things didn’t go as planned, we both still deeply cared about each other. The heart of the argument was that she felt like I didn’t care enough about her or her job to do my best. In reality, I was just tired and frustrated from sleeping at 8 AM. Not a valid excuse for giving up, so I apologized.

Her mom called midway. “Where are you guys?”

“We’re outside,” I explained. “Just talking.”

We went inside her house after hugging it out. Her parents were waiting for us.

“Were you guys fighting?” her mom asked jokingly.

“No,” said Jenine, laughing it off.

“Yes,” I replied.

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