Sunday, May 14, 2017

 May 14, 2017

In the actual performance, our piece turned out to be clever and engaging, its quirks becoming delights. The program was unbalanced– way too many lengthy Mexican pieces the texts to which were beautiful (the settings trivialized them) but which, musically, all sounded about the same.  The program, in fact, was overwhelmed (in the virtuous way) by Jon’s piece and Brahms’ “Wie lieblich. . .”  My sister rode down and witnessed the premiere, and said she liked it. In the car ride home (shortened by a hour by the opening of the I-85 bridge) I thought about the Atlanta Young Singers, and decided that in this time it, and things like it, are worth double their weight in gold. The kids were striving and achieving. They were becoming citizens and scholars and team players as they sang. Watching their faces would, in Whitman’s phrase, stagger sextillions of infidels, who believe that training in the arts is a luxury, or even an imposition. I think especially of Stephen, the bass in the male quartet, a high school senior, who acted out the words as he sang them in a transport of delight and empathy. People ask what we should fight for. I say this.

I fear and hate–almost above all other woes associated with traveling–not knowing how I’m going to get home. Someone saying “we’ll figure it out when we get there” makes me berserk. This is what nearly ruined the experience of Budapest for me. So I’d fixed my phone so I could call either Uber or Lyft to whisk me back to the hotel, but when the concert ended, both failed me, and in my repeated frenzied tries the phone got locked up somehow. This is exactly like saying “Well, I’m OK, barring a tsunami,” and watching a tsunami suddenly crowd the horizon. I had made the walk before, but I couldn’t again the next night, and so I stood on the sidewalk on Ponce de Leon in Atlanta and, literally, repeatedly, howled. I kept the card of the Ethiopian driver who picked me up at the Aquarium. I walked to a Mexican restaurant and they– with the customers piling up in line–phoned him for me. As I waited, the phone came back on, and the Uber screen said “looking for your ride.” I hit “Cancel.” My driver was home for the evening, but he came for me, having remembered saying that he would. I gave him a gigantic tip. As we rode the actually quite short way I thought maybe God intended this, that the Ethiopian guy really needs money right now, and I was the way to get it to him. Or I was meant to learn to swallow my pride and ask waitresses to make call for me. .  or. . . something. Or maybe God is a sovereign brat who changes the rules in order to hurt a person. Being human is not being able to find a way to bring those possibilities into balance. Sat on the hotel terrace and watched lovely people in formalwear come maybe from a Prom, maybe from the Fox. Saw the Watermans, a couple I’d met in a Peachtree bar, who were in Atlanta for a childless weekend, pass by in white, looking beautiful, looking ethereal, looking very happy. They have everything I do not. I have everything they likely never thought to desire. I wished for everyone I know that they might be the Watermans.

Saw a white winged hawk high above me as I walked.

Went to the Atlanta Young Singers on You Tube, and there were Stephen and Michelle singing their hearts out two years ago in “Hey Jude.: Felt like a little part of their lives. What a father I might have been. . . .

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