Mon, 12 Jan 2009 22:10:27 -0800
New year's day, my kitchen was so dirty (bottles and bottles of champagne empties, including the Veuve magnum and the Dom whose cracking cork I'd carefully undone the night before; my stash of IKEA flutes both broken and intact) that, too daunted to even attempt breakfast at home, I decamped in the sunny morning to Café du Soleil up Fillmore. I edited photos; while my latte was soy, I started 2009 off with a very unvegan sticky bun.
Julie met me there just as my MacBook battery was running out; hungry again but still not ready to clean my apartment, I ordered an open-face sandwich involving both pesto (Parmesan) and goat cheese.
Julie had been saying something, I realized, for at least 30 seconds. Meanwhile, my brain had been swooning, my mouth swept off its feet, my inner monologue left speechless by the first bite of sandwich. I had to ask her to repeat whatever had been drowned out by the cheese, the first such I'd had in about five years.
Why yes, I am vegan. Why do you ask?
And so it was, almost, last night at Classical Revolution at the cafe of the same name. Squeezed in among hipsters and cityfolk, glasses of beer and Apple laptops, a standing quartet read a cute Mozart as I began to thrum with the evening: Heatlamps and a not-yet-summer breeze; various kinds of smoke drifted in from the street; the Leffe in my glass; the pretty I-V-I of the high strings.
But then they began the clarinet quintet, the one we'd studied so ardently in Music 12 in college (ten years ago! Hollis posted back when I frantically pulled out my iPhone and posted on his Facebook wall). And then the Schumann! And if I'd been in the middle of some coherent-yet-didactic sentence about even temperament or perfect fifths directed at the ginger-haired boy sharing my chair and my beer, it sheared away from my tongue like an avalanche and I sat rapt, alternately yelping in remembrance or slack-jawed, confronted yet again with the knowledge of what it is to play these pieces.
Though the urgency has dimmed over the last five or six years; though I've contented myself, mostly, by accepting symphony invitations, by finagling free opera and then paying handsomely for proper tickets, even recently by singing in this lovely choir; though I've entertained ideas of masters' degrees in CS-related topics, thoughts that my studies were best spent on TCP/IP right now; I am left with the sense, upon waking the next morning, that I've veered too far. My current labels and narratives for myself involve the words "site reliability engineer," "geek," "left-brained," and "Python"; but they haven't managed to placate that 20-year-old bright-eyed musician who thrilled at Shostakovich and knew, very clearly and very early, that, despite what it said on her undergraduate diploma, she must play this music.
To consider this again is almost like reopening a wound, or going back to a relationship that's failed so many times -- I've done this thinking; I've written these rapturous words; I've made these plans and then not followed through on any of it. I have a laundry list of glib, cocktail-party excuses. I calculate the value of my almost-fully-vested stock options (in this economic climate, ha) and how far they might let me ride at the same time as I reflect that I've been burned by this before. I almost can't bring myself to write this all down again -- I mean, I haven't even chopped my fingernails off or opened my viola case since last night, so where could this sea of good intentions possibly go without the drastic action I'm unwilling to take?
At the very least, I now have two new year's resolutions: