Today the other two members of my trio came over for a pre-concert rehearsal, after which we went to grab lunch, make a couple of page-turn-avoiding copies at Kinkos, and then head off for our gig. The concert was in a church that’s very reverberant, so that, coupled with the fact that we were sitting quite differently than we do in my tiny little studio (have I said I’m really looking forward to having a bigger space??) meant that playing there was quite a different experience than the one we’ve been having. I think we did pretty well given the number of rehearsals we’ve had. We have an opportunity now to deepen and polish our understanding and presentation of the movement, given that we’ll be performing the whole piece in a few months. In the car ride on the way back we talked about things we want to work on, including intonation, vibrato, articulation, and phrasing. We have very distinct styles as musicians, and learning to play together as a cohesive unit is something that takes time, intention, and work. I am deeply grateful to have this chance to spend several months working on one piece with a chamber group. My individual goal is to make sure, though personal practice, that every note I play is beautiful. Beyond that, I want to get better and better at hearing the other voices within the ensemble, and finding the right balance in my conversation with them.
When I got back I reserved a snorkeling trip for my friends and me for one of the days we’ll be in HI. That was a pleasure. This week I need to start thinking about logistics, how I’ll get to the airport, what I’ll bring. Even that feels like fun right now.
This evening we had a birthday dinner for me at a local small restaurant with a bunch of friends. This was one of our monthly off-plan meals, and so I ate some things I won’t usually be eating now that we’re on a Paleo diet. Nonetheless, I stayed gluten-free, and had only a tiny piece of chocolate from the top of the tiramisu the waiter brought me as a birthday dessert. This is not to brag about self-control, because that’s not how I’m experiencing it now. I have made a shift from looking at what I eat as a matter of controlling myself sufficiently to prevent myself from eating a whole range of things, restricting myself, to a place where I feel much more confident in my choices, and happy to eat things that are healthy for me. That feels really good, after a lifetime of a not-great relationship with food.
The evening was really wonderful. I’ve known some of the people around that table for over 25 years, and the roots of our conversations go back a long way. Topics of conversation ranged from handling the passing of loved ones and the subsequent dealing with stuff and childhood houses, to cultural differences between Brazil and the USA (one friend has been living there for a few years), to jobs, some politics, family, books, music, food, and more. It was one of those occasions where, to me at least, the affection and good will in the air was palpable. People came to enjoy themselves, to be with each other, to celebrate this community and set of connections. I am so grateful for my friends. It is a gift to have a circle (or several) of friends who are simply glad that you are alive, and who are glad to come celebrate the fact of your existence at a birthday party. It reminds me of a verse from the book “On The Day You Were Born,” by Debra Frasier.
“On the day you were born
the Earth turned, the Moon pulled,
the Sun flared, and, then, with a push,
you slipped out of the dark quiet
where suddenly you could hear. . .
. . . a circle of people singing with voices familiar and clear.
“Welcome to the spinning world,” the people sang,
as they washed your new, tiny hands.
“Welcome to the green Earth,” the people sang,
as they wrapped your wet, slippery body.
And as they held you close
they whispered into your open, curving ear,
“We are so glad you’ve come!”
My darling children have been born, not just into our family of five, but into a larger family of many people who love us and them, our families, our friends, our communities. I am glad to be alive, and that our girls came to us. On the one hand, the number 45 causes my eyes to widen, my lip to twitch, and my inner obnoxious teenager to say, “Oh My God, you are so OLD!” I figure that’s ok, as it is just a preview of what I am sure we will hear from all three kids over the years. But I say to her, “Yes! I have gray in my hair, I’ll need bifocals sometime sooner than I’d like to admit, and I’m regaining a regular cycle just in time for menopause. But I can sing, I can dance (badly), I can enjoy the light of day on my face and the silver of the night sky, and I can love better, more cleanly, and more fully than I could before. I am still growing, changing, learning. I am grateful.”