So do do I begin where I left off with my last post? Begin with prepping that possum or with the day before?
Forget the possum. I’ll get to it or I won’t. The day before.
By then we all knew it was just a matter of time and not much at that. A family in Sao Paulo holding a dying man’s hand. Me sitting in a parking lot with room for just one thought. Crazy, how these things just come out of the blue.
I turn on the radio. Forget the rock ‘n’ roll, though John might have preferred it. I click on over to the classical station. Out comes something Debussy-like and lovely, though I couldn’t name it. I gather my bags and go into the store. Back out 20 minutes later, start the car. The music again. At first I think: surely Debussy. But it can’t be. So distant yet familiar; something, perhaps, from my girlhood. (Trashy as we were, only classical music got let in the house; my mother’s fave—Porgy and Bess—made the cut.) But if not Debussy, what? Bassoon, oboe, strings, harp. I begin to cry. And then—an eruption of brass; the whole orchestra piling it on every which way for just a moment or so.
OK, assuredly not Debussy. But the strings are back. Velvety, tremulous—edgy. I’m wiping my eyes again. Still no clue what I’m hearing. A moment’s hesitation against the backdrop of softest velvet. A heartbeat, maybe two, and—ah, one horn and but for the soft velvet of strings, alone.
A lone French horn with a new story to tell.
Familiar. OK, I know this piece. Just can’t remember its name, is all. The horn’s is a short story; I count the beats. Something like twelve beats long. Heartbeats. Takes one relaxed breath; repeats. I’ve always loved brass, but the horn takes brass into the realm of … of … well, no instrument does haunting and ethereal the way the horn does.
The strings amp up a notch. Next in—the harps. Woodwinds, including that gorgeous bassoon I’d heard not long before. The brass pile it on. Timpani. The whole orchestra takes that solo like the wind and then it’s … just done. I sit there crying and my cousin lies dying and I have to turn up the dial to hear what—oh yeah.
Not that it matters it was The Firebird I was listening to. But still, I couldn’t get that horn out of my head. Not for days, weeks, months; more, should it matter. And should it matter, this post isn’t quite done either. Or maybe it is.
By the time I went to bed that night, I knew that John’s system was still at work, still quietly slowing down. Shutting down. One beat at a time. I woke up early. Checked my email. Got breakfast, got down the hill to the bus, got to work. Sao Paulo is a long way away but the word came soon enough.
Today is six months to the day.
I listened to it again last night. The horn solo, that is. It still has the same story to tell. The possum has to wait. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=-WsqK1mCGeY