DATE: 1/25/2004 11:59:00 AM
At the Edge
One of the many groups Steve is playing with this season is the Great Woods Chamber Orchestra out of Wheaton College. Earl Raney, who Steve has worked with over the past several years in various groups, is conducting. On a whim a few months ago, I told Steve to ask Earl if they need string players.
A few years ago, before I even started this blog--a fact which occurred to me like a punch in the stomach today--I was sitting onstage with the University of Massachusetts Symphony Orchestra under Mark Russell Smith. We were onstage at John M. Greene Hall, and I was sitting in the first violin section, playing my final concert with the UMass orchestra. We were playing "Rodeo" by Aaron Copland, "Pines of Rome" by Respighi and an overture the name of which escapes me. I knew it was my final concert--violin was my minor instrument in my minor field (music), and it made no sense anymore to spend six hours a day either practicing, taking lessons, or rehearsing on it when my time was being demanded in areas where I at least said I wanted to make my career. But I had no idea how final it was--several months after that concert, in the fall of 2000...well, we all know what happened to me in the fall of 2000. I haven't picked up my violin again since the applause started for "Rodeo" that night.
Playing my violin hasn't crossed my mind very often since then. For a long while, writing for newspapers filled the void in my mental workout regimen, so to speak, that leaving orchestra might have opened. Even when presented with the opportunity to join this orchestra, I was only very cautiously interested. I told Steve to check it out and get back to me. Finally, last night, I asked him about it again--this idea keeps nagging at me like a hangnail--and he said, oh, yeah, by the way, the first rehearsal is next Monday. Earl wants to hear you play by yourself either before or after the rehearsal. So, today would probably have been a good time to break out the violin and start playing.
One problem--I don't know where it is. I thought my sister had borrowed it a long time ago, and that's where my mother remembers the violin being, but today I went through it with my sister on the phone giving me suggestions as to where to look and saw no sign of it. I've checked the storage area of the basement three times, huffing and puffing as I moved boxes and bags of other junk back and forth. I've dug deep into my closet, checked under every bed, and even called Heather in New Jersey, who I thought I might have remembered borrowing the violin on one of her visits here, and she told me that last she knew, it was in my sister's room. So now we're back to square one--and as much as I suddenly want to play again, as much as I have already begun fantasizing about possibly revisiting my former violin teacher over on Second Street in Chelmsford, as much as I already had my heart set on making fun of "Mayor McCheese" and attending rehearsals with my boyfriend, poof! I've literally lost my instrument.
It's really not that huge a deal, I know. For me, at least. If my violin was really that important, it might have occurred to me to keep it in a safe place or at least keep track of it. I'm not even totally sure that, wherever it is, it has an E string anymore--definitely something I would probably know for sure if, again, it were really that important. This is the kind of thing that happens in every person's life--you grow older, you let things go, and new things take their place eventually.
But no matter what happens eventually, it's moments like this that you realize with sudden and shocking clarity that you're not the person you used to be anymore. And for some reason, it feels to me today like standing with my toes curled over the jagged edge of a thousand-foot cliff, while a hot and nauseous wind quickens behind my back.