Tuesday, April 12, 2011

My Only Witness

From Ballad of a Sandwich Girl
 Dear Beautiful Cello,

Every time I walk into the kitchen, I look at you. I regret that sometimes you are covered in dust. Sometimes I lean over and pluck your strings to make sure that they have not loosened to the point where the sound post will fall again. It only costs ten dollars to fix. I thought that it was much more, so I waited too long.

When Shelby was here, he tuned you. So now when I go into the kitchen, I pluck to see if you are still in tune. You usually aren’t which is normal. I use the fine tuning pegs to keep you in tune, but I still do not take you out of your stand. I think of it, in fact I ache to do so. There is a lump in my throat a lot…well, most of the time. I imagine playing you and embracing your old, worn wood against me, but there is an invisible force holding me back.

Sometimes when I remember playing you in the symphony, I wonder if it was really me. The thick mist in that dream has been tainted by so many nightmares, I am uncertain.

My tuner is broken. The lights and meter still work, but it doesn’t give me the name of the pitch anymore. I can tune you to yourself, which is what I did last fall. Shelby laughed when he plucked your strings because you were perfectly in tune, just not the right notes.

We played duets.  Heart, hands, head.  We remembered.

Last week I listened to the Bach cello Suites in the car. It was a good time for that. It was especially helpful because during the absolute musical perfection coming from my speakers, I was inspired to let out a primal scream. It had been over a year since I had done this.

At first I was self conscious and then I realized how ridiculous that was. The only one who would hear it besides me was God, and I think it was really His idea in the first place. I took a deep breath and checked the rear view mirror for some unknown reason and screamed so loud that it made my eardrums vibrate. My palms were sweaty on the wheel, my face flushed and my heart raced as I continued down the deserted road. I entertained the thought of screaming again, but because I did such a great job, there was no need.

It was only natural for tears to fill my eyes, so I gave myself permission to engage in a long awaited cry. It was one of those times when I felt like there were too many tears that needed to escape at once, like holding a funnel under Niagara Falls. The pressure is almost unbearable, which is all the more reason that these tears needed an out.

I choked and sobbed and thought that I should pull over. I didn’t, however, I was only going about twenty miles per hour at that point. I reached into the glove box and pulled out a napkin and dabbed my eyes. I caught sight of a Great Blue Heron in the swamp on the right. (There are a few swamps on both sides of this road – wildlife refuges). Seeing that magnificent bird invoked more tears. I was both honored and relieved that he – my only witness – did not fly away as they usually do.

The sun tried to break through the thick gray clouds. I let a few hundred more tears escape in the meantime. I turned up the volume on the cello suites and took a deep, cleansing breath and dared to remember; I actually played some of this in my other life.

The questions started in. Why can’t I play? Was it real? Did that time actually exist where I played music day and night and stood on the stage just doing what it was that I did? Music. It is too far away now. I cannot reach it.

I accelerated. I had come full circle once again, landing in the fog. Then it occurred to me; I thought that perhaps this is what was wrong with my life. I have been suffering and plagued with nightmares and ill fortune because God and Sophia will let nothing else work for me until I get my ass back into music.

I laughed. I figured it out (again). I would dash into the house, throw my coat and bag on the chair in the kitchen and run to you, my cello, and play into the wee hours of the morning. I won’t even need food because my love of music will sustain me as it did in my other life. I would even be so bold as to take one of my cornets from the case and play.

How delightful it will be, is what I thought. It has been five days since the primal scream and I have passed you by again and again. Last Sunday I dusted you off before my mother came to visit and had to tune your A and D strings slightly.

Please forgive me. I do love you.

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