If you know me at all, you know that I have an unhealthy obsession with McDonald’s. I tell people that I could eat chicken nuggets and fries from the land of the Golden Arches everyday and not grow tired of it. I can’t tell you how it started or even why it continues, but I think of McDonald’s as my happy place. Yes, now is the time to roll your eyes and judge me. It’s okay, I understand. Some very joyful, memorable times over the past couple of years have taken place in a McDonald’s restaurant.
Senior year of high school, I came to East Lansing for the day with my brother. Of course, we went to McDonald’s for lunch. If you know me personally, another thing you know about me is that I am a very big fan of John Denver. As we were eating our meal and reveling in the glory of our greasy food and carbonated beverages, a John Denver song came on the radio. Not just any John Denver song, a very obscure work that happened to be one of my favorites in that season of my life. I almost cried tears of joy as I ate my nuggets and listened to the gorgeous music and thought about how great things might just work out for me at MSU’s College of Music the following year. Of course, things ended up working out beautifully, and throughout the course of freshman year I often looked back to when I felt so peaceful and optimistic about the future, starting in that McDonald’s restaurant.
Fast forward a year and a half, and I had just started my sophomore year of college at MSU’s College of Music. The whole harp studio including my professor went on a McDonald’s run after our grad student harpist played in a concert. As we sat there eating, I told them how special it was to be in my happy place with some of my favorite people. We were even sitting in the very area I was sitting over a year ago when they played John Denver. I told them the story, telling them all about the great vibes I had received. It was our first harp studio trip to my favorite place, and my fellow harpists were truly experiencing me in my element. It was a very special time.
Last weekend I performed my first solo harp recital as a Spartan. I was pretty stressed out leading up to the performance, but it ended up coming together nicely. Sure, it had its rough spots, but I’m happy with what happened that evening. My favorite part of the recital (and my whole semester) was playing my arrangement of “Sunshine on my Shoulders” by John Denver. It’s one of John’s more popular works that has really come to mean a great to me over the past year. Coming up with my harp arrangement and performing it for my friends and family really was a special experience for me. As the harp rested on my shoulder (the one with my sun tattoo) and I played the notes, I really thought about the beautiful lyrics and message of the song. Needless to say, I truly loved it.
After my recital, my awesome family, my cool roommate, and one of my best friends from home and I went to the magical land of McDonald’s. As I sat and ate my nuggets, I reflected on my personal, academic, and musical growth over my time at Michigan State University, and how fortunate I am to be where I am, and to have music play such an important role in my life. I certainly am grateful for the time I’ve had so far, and I am looking forward to the rest of my musical development and experiences both here and elsewhere for the remainder of my life here on earth.
“Sunshine on my shoulders makes me happy
Sunshine in my eyes can make me cry
Sunshine on the water looks so lovely
Sunshine almost always makes me high
If I had a day that I could give you
I’d give to you the day just like today
If I had a song that I could sing for you
I’d sing a song to make you feel this way.”
(not pictured: my amazing mother who took the photo)