The Woman in Red

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It is hard to describe the flurry of feelings that bubble up inside a young girl when she is removed from the world she has always known and placed in an entirely new environment. In a span of months, these feelings can turn from a nervous aching to a destructive terror if left unchecked. Luckily, a kind face or encouraging word is sometimes all that is needed to calm the storm of fear in a girl’s heart. For me, this comfort came in the form of my vocal teacher, Mrs. Caryn Martin.

Only moving to Cleburne a month before I started my freshman year of high school, I was a girl filled with doubts and confusion. My only weapons against complete terror were the few faces I had become familiar with and the support of my twin sister, Hillary. I had no idea how I was going to find any source of stability in a place where everything I came into contact with was a completely foreign. It was then that my distant, success-obsessed step-father persisted that Hillary and I enter the youth choir at our church.

Aiming to please my new father-figure while also seeing a way to possibly find some comfort in my new surroundings, I chose to go along with his plan and try out the choir. When Hillary and I first entered the room, we were immediately enveloped in an embrace from a woman that gave off the faint smell of cinnamon. When she freed me from her grasp, I was immediately captivated by her fiery red hair, dancing in the light of the room like a glowing campfire. She proceeded to introduce herself as the director of the church choir, and as she spoke, I could feel my timidity leaving me and being replaced by an eagerness that I had not felt in quite a long time.

Over the course of the next year in choir, I became more acquainted with Caryn and soon felt that I could consider her one of my better friends in the community. She was always willing to help me when I had a question about simple musicality or even on a more personal level; eyes turned to me with genuine concern over the issue. The power in her voice was a guiding factor in my yearning to become a singer like her. I would listen with earnest as she sang to the church on Sunday mornings, voice filling the room with power and reverence to her Most High God. Through this, I could feel the power of her dedication and became even more driven to do well in my singing career as I understood further her dedication to what she believed in.

One thing that really connected Caryn and I on an ever personal level was the fact that I have had the opportunity to visit with her in her own home. Being in her choir at church, we had some rehearsals and parties in her home, giving us an opportunity to see not only the outside view of this amazing individual, but into her personal self as well. Every time I have entered her home, I have taken in the scents of the seasons: spicy apple cider in the winter and the fresh smell of citrus during the spring. I have also had the opportunity to witness the overwhelming love she feels for her family, seeing her tenderly teach her daughter the ways of life and have heart-to-heart talks with her husband, love visible in their eyes as they look at one another. Through this, I believe it is safe to say that Caryn has taught me much more from her actions than what she has actually taken the time to say to me.

Throughout my time in Cleburne, Caryn has never ceased to impress me with her ability to stay reasonable and thoughtful in times she was needed. Whether it was in a private lesson between us or in a room full of kids, her gentleness and intelligence has instilled in me a determination for excellence that I would have missed if she had not taken the time to nurture a timid and unconfident freshman. Through her guidance, I not only noticed the changing of my voice, but in retrospect I can now see the unmistakable change within myself. Due to the love of that vivacious and fiery red-head, I am capable of accomplishing any dream with a never-ending song in my heart.





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