Wednesday, January 21, 2009

Where We Were

I've had so many meetings lately, and a funeral some distance away... I've been missing in action from my office, and so yesterday... despite the fact that anyone should understand the impulse to stay home and watch the thing... I was in my office. I asked the seccretary if I could have her radio (she wasn't listening) and I plugged it in next to my desk and tuned it to NPR. Then I found streaming video (at first on CNN, but there seemed to be a several minute delay, and L (the secretary) told me AOL was more current, so I went there. And... I pretended to do work (I did a little work), but basically, from about 11:15 on, I watched the festivities.

When the chamber music began, I began to weep.

When I had first graduated from college, I sang with T., a wonderful and enthusiastic choral director at the university parish at Big Jesuit U. This woman was the first to tell me: you must do something with that voice. I commenced a lengthy and fraught process of trying, then shying away from the idea of being a singer... for real. I studied with some wonderful voice teachers, ad in performance, I generally did well. I have a naturally beautiful and rich vocal instrument (through no merit of my own; God/ genes did it). But it was the auditions that killed me. In the most demoralizing one, the auditioner listened to me, and then ignored me while trying to convince my accompanist to come to work with her.

But through it all, T. had confidence in me (the kind I was never able to find for myself). She introduced me to all kinds of music, and the piece that stands out-- a piece I had her sing at my wedding, a piece I still love to sing whenever and wherever I can-- was the Aaron Copland arrangement of "Simple Gifts." It was T's way of saying to me, in effect, yes, you can.

So I heard the clarinet sweep into that theme yesterday and I was done for. The tears came. And when the gentleman said, "Please stand," I stood, in my office, weeping, and watched the Obama girls skip forward to see their daddy take the presidential oath of office haltingly, with some confusion, but in the end, to good effect... kind of like my singing career.

In the midst of it I received a text from Petra:

I'm watching! Are you?

To which I texted back,


and then,

I'm crying.

Petra told me later that all but one of her teachers allowed her classes to go to the auditorium to watch on a big screen. She told me two of her friends were unhappy, sullen, but that everyone else was in a party mood. In her French class, they watched C-SPAN, and various people got their cell phones out to call in. Eventually, the Parlor City Sophomore Honors French Class got through to the Democratic call-in line, to say, "We're so happy! We're so excited!" until the anchors broke off the call, laughing, that there was too much chaos for their young voices to be understood.

1 comment:

LittleMary said...

thank you for writing this. it really is beautiful.