We were really excited for Sunday, because I had been asked to play the organ and Athena had been asked to lead the music for Relief Society. We like for people to know we exist, but we're too afraid to just go up and introduce ourselves, so things like this that put us in the spotlight without too much pressure are perfect. In fact, we knew from when Athena was our ward's sacrament meeting chorister that people tend to notice us when we're sitting up on the stand together. On top of that, we'd already gotten some compliments on our hair, and we wanted people to see it down (well, half-down).
We had been warned that the program had gotten our names mixed up, but that didn't really bother us, because we're used to having our names mixed up. When we finally saw the program, though, there were several points of alarm. First, the hymns listed for sacrament meeting were not the ones I had been told to practice, and one of them was hard (True to the Faith, for the curious). Second, it listed a completely different set of people doing the music for sacrament meeting. This was especially confusing, because when we arrived that morning, we were met by one of the organizer-type people, who immediately asked to make sure we didn't mind doing the music.
Still, we like to be sure, so I asked some of the other organizers and they said I wasn't playing for sacrament meeting--just Relief Society and the closing fireside. Oh. Well, that explains the hymn mix-up. I didn't like the feeling that I had made a mistake, but I'm still pretty sure that if the person who called hadn't said "sacrament meeting," I wouldn't have thought sacrament meeting. I was also upset for the more petty reason that I really didn't like the other organist's playing style (not that I have any right to criticize, since he clearly has real knowledge of how to play an organ, and I really do not).
So we went and sat in the congregation, and the meeting was a good one. Afterward, there was a big group picture, which...was about as exciting as taking a big group picture with hundreds of people and less-than-stellar organization can be, and then it was time for Relief Society. The program listed the same chorister for sacrament meeting and Relief Society, and that chorister was not Athena (or me, since Athena was listed as the organist). We had been told that that was a mistake and Athena was supposed to be the chorister for Relief Society, but we weren't sure that the other chorister knew that. So Athena went up to change the hymn numbers on the display, planning to be flexible in case the other chorister came up to the stand. Sure enough, she walked up as Athena finished changing the numbers.
Athena opted for the path of least confusion, and went to sit in the congregation. She found someone we knew with a lot of empty spaces by her, and asked if there was room for her. She said no, the whole bench was being saved for older people who can't sit in the hard folding chairs in the back. Of course we both understand that reasoning and we don't begrudge anyone for it, but it really emphasized the problem we'd been having all along, which is a feeling of being unwanted.
So Athena went to sit in the back, alone, while I continued to play prelude music. Incidentally, no one tends to notice when I play the organ if Athena isn't the chorister. Sometimes it really does seem like being together is the only way to be visible. Like we're too translucent alone or something. And of course, I didn't know what was happening with Athena, so I was worried about her, too, and it was just unpleasant all around. (Athena did think about finding someone and asking about it, but she didn't have a lot of time to think about it before the meeting started.)
At lunchtime, we found a place to eat that was relatively secluded (there were still a bunch of people around, but it was kind of out of the way, instead of at one of the long tables they had set up), because if there's anything that bothers us more than being ignored, it's only being paid attention when we're crying. And we didn't want to answer any sensitive questions like, "And how are you doing today?" It seems kind of silly, now that I'm typing it all out, but it's still something we feel very deeply about.
The rest of the conference passed almost uneventfully. Our friend from before had two benches at the fireside, and offered to let us both sit with them, but I was going to play the organ, and Athena was not going to be able to handle that. So we went to our separate places, and I started playing prelude music. The fireside was really good--one of the apostles, Elder Ballard, spoke about lots of important things, but the one that stood out to us was the message of replacing fear with faith. And then it was time for the closing hymn, which was a really tricky one (Let Us All Press On), but I was ready! I'd practiced it a lot!
...The organ, on the other hand, seemed less ready. It was an electronic organ, and I guess there was something going on with the wiring, because it completely cut out on me, and so the congregation sang the first chorus a Capella. I finally figured out that the organ didn't like me to leave my foot on the volume pedal (since I can't figure out a good time to practice with the foot pedals, I don't play them, and I leave my feet on...those other pedals (the ones that control volume and swell and...the other thing) while I play...or I did, but obviously I stopped doing that), and we made it through the rest of the hymn without incident, but man that was traumatic.
I had several things to think about. My main concern was that all the talented organists in the entire temple region were like, "That idiot; I bet she has her foot on the volume pedal still. Amateur; she should be using the foot pedals, or at least the base coupler." On the other hand, an event like that could get me some attention. But really I should have been worried about whether or not that distracted the whole congregation from the spirit of that great fireside (although Athena points out that since it's not like I did it on purpose, I shouldn't really worry about that after all).
But the really depressing thing about it all is that in actuality, I only got two comments--one from the chorister and one from the girl who conducted the meeting. The girl who conducted was very complimentary, actually--said she was impressed that I stayed calm through that. So that got my hopes up a little for maybe some more conversation from other people on the matter. An organ cutting out entirely for a whole chorus is kind of a big thing after all. But we left too soon to really talk to anybody, and besides, it seemed like everybody'd all forgotten about it already anyway.
And so we went home and were sad, because we want people to notice us, but we're afraid that if they do notice us, it's because we're annoying them or something. And that's not because of what happened at the conference, but because of how we've been feeling for a long time, and various experiences that have messed with our heads enough that it's hard to convince ourselves we're being silly. And we read manga and ended up watching The Tale of Desperaux on Netflix, which was an okay movie with stunning visuals.
But when we got home from Disneyland, Athena checked her voice mail and found out that one of the organizers had called yesterday to apologize for the mix-up at Relief Society, so we feel a little bit better. We always knew it was an honest mistake and not any kind of a hint, but it was still nice to be noticed.
Today I'm thankful for being back home with Page, all the tasty snacks we got to buy at Famima!, having a great time at Disneyland, getting to watch more H2O last night, and the great meetings we had at church today.