The Ballad of My Life

Me enjoying the little things in life: Photograph by MTO Media

I looked out into the large, empty Georgia Theatre and imagined how it would look with the hundreds of sorority girls that would arrive within the that would arrive within the hour. The air was thick. My heart started racing, my hands became sweaty, knees were weak, arms were heavy. I took a deep breath and took out “Brooklyn”, my banjo that I learned to play when I was in middle school; she was the love of my life. The years I spent with her led to this moment; I was living out my childhood dream of performing in front of hundreds people. I was representing my fraternity for Mr. Milledge, a male pageant show. My Talent: Performing “Wagon Wheel” on my banjo with solos in between the verses.

As I took out my banjo and practiced in front of the empty theatre, I was flooded with memories of listening to Old Crow Medicine Show with my mom. The regression soothed my nerves and I became confident in myself even though I was given less than a week to practice. Holding Brooklyn gave me a sort of comfort that I needed tremendously.

Me and my good friend before my performance at “Mr. Milledge”

The first round was an introduction, and the contestants each stated his name, his fraternity, and an interesting fact about himself. My turn came around and they called my name “Jordy Klustner”. I walked up cautiously to the microphone as what seemed to be a million eyes were focused upon me. A sea of eyes stared at me as I nervously recited my intro, “Hello, I’m Jordy Klustner and I am representing Delta Tau Delta. A fun fact about me is that my spirit animal is a Galapagos penguin”. I gave the crowd a quick smile and wave and proceeded to the green room to calm my nerves.

I waited patiently and anxiously for my turn to perform; It was the longest half hour I had ever experienced. They called my name and I brought Brooklyn out on stage. Without delay, I took a deep breath, closed my eyes, and imagined myself singing alongside my mother. The first verse was performed beautifully; I could hear the girls singing along and having a good time. When the chorus hit, the vibes were even better. My eyes opened for the solo but I kept them focussed on Brooklyn. Adrenaline rushed through my body and it was euphoric. I picked the banjo like a badass and the cheers grew even louder. My eyes wandered and made the mistake of looking at the hundreds of eyes focussed on me. I was shook. Come time for the the second verse my mind blanked; I forgot the words! “Help me sing along” I embarrassingly said into the microphone. Luckily, I recovered towards the end and finished the song but I was still nervous as hell.

When the night was through and crowds of peering eyes has dispersed, all I wanted was to forget what had happened. However, looking back on it now all I can think is “Wow, I did it,” I had finally satisfied the ambitions of my youth.

My Future Spotify Profile Picture: Photograph by MTO Media

When I was only four, I took off my floaties at the neighborhood pool and tried to see how far I could get into the deep end. Years later I would join Dynamo Swim Club and win several state level awards. At 12, I was given a pair of boots as a gift so that I could hike with my Boy Scout Troop. Today, I have hiked over 700 miles in them including 250 miles in the Rocky Mountains, and 100 miles on the Appalachian Trail. Music has always been a large part of my life. In eighth grade I saved up to buy a guitar to play songs from my favorites like Paul Simon, Eric Clapton, and Gregory Alan Isakov. I dreamed of one day playing in front of hundreds of people. That childhood dream came true six years later at Mr. Milledge. Since the day I was born, I have been living out my life with ambition and curiosity. I have always had the drive to explore, find my limits, and go beyond them. It is said that the only limit is the one you set yourself, and I have been pushing mine throughout my life. My goal now is to push them even further; maybe one day I’ll play for thousands.