Magic music

I play cello. I haven’t picked it up in a long time, but I still consider myself a cellist. I didn’t lug that giant thing back and forth on the school bus for nothing, after all.

I played in the school orchestra from fourth grade until graduation—literally, we played the national anthem at graduation. I miss the people more, perhaps. The conductor was with us from our first clumsy notes to our final hurrah, and many of my closest friends are cellists or violinists (we had a string orchestra separate from the band), but I miss playing music, too. I miss being in time with fifty other people, I miss breathing in sync with them under hot lights.

Beyond nostalgia, I miss being a “cello.” That’s what we were called, “the cellos,” and we had our own little culture. Cellos were always the bassline, so we flew under the radar most of the time. Since we were low and had easy parts, we shone in the conductor’s eyes. No one could come close to our low, booming radiance. We led the orchestra from behind, we drove the high-pitched melody of the violins. We made the audience feel the music vibrate in their ribcages. We made the curtains flutter with sound.

Being a cellist had its downsides, too. Since we had easy parts, we didn’t learn as much. We didn’t look as nice, and I already mentioned lugging the giant thing everywhere.

Worst of all, we couldn’t wear skirts or heels. Being a cellist meant having your legs spread and your feet flat on the floor. No skirts, no heels. I was restricted from wearing skirts to school for nine years. I didn’t mind too much, but playing a cello did result in feeling less pretty.

Maybe it was this lack of daintiness that gave us our power. I felt confident when playing the cello. We were the hidden powerhouse. People watched the violins, but heard the cellos, pounding away with strong arms all swaying in sync. I was hidden behind such a gorgeous instrument people forgot I was the one playing—which made me play all the better.

I miss the community, the strength, the power, the camaraderie, the beauty, the sound, the feel of a cello. I miss feeling the strings simmer beneath my fingers, I miss feeling the edge buzz against my knees. I miss the rattle my earrings made when I played too loudly. I miss the ache in my bowing arm, I miss the cramps in my fingers.

I believe music is something inherently human. Though it seems harder to be blind than deaf, music is the one thing that would give me pause if I had to choose one over the other.

Anyway, I bring all this up because I went back and watched my high school orchestra, or what remains of it 2 years after graduation, play their spring concert Thursday, and they were not great. It made me wonder if we sounded so mediocre from the audience when we played. Maybe it doesn’t matter. From our seats in the bright lights, music filling our lungs, we sounded magic. That’s all that matters in the end.

Missing Community II: Coffee jitters

It’s daylight savings time here in the US, which means we suddenly “spring forward” one hour, putting the entire country (except a few lucky abstaining states, like Arizona) into mild jet lag. My work is giving out free coffee all day. I’m on my second cup. I never have a second cup!

The coffee isn’t great. It tastes like a mix between chocolate-coated beef jerky and nail polish remover, but it gets the job done, and hey, it’s free. Besides, I run on Dunkin’, so my opinions on good coffee are pretty moot.

I recently wrote about how I meet the community feel of high school. Going through daylight savings, surprisingly, made it feel like I was in a community of sorts again. Everybody was tired at the same time, complaining about the same thing, guzzling caffeine and wanting to go home. In many ways, it was just like high school.

Probably the most important part of a community is having something to fight for—and something to fight against. Having a common enemy makes people work together. I didn’t like a lot of people in drama club, but after a successful show we might as well have been family, crying and hugging, sharing the love. When I was at competitions with the orchestra, we banded together like the goddamn Avengers, one-liners and all. It feels great to all be in agreement, to all feel the same thing at the same time, and to know you are all working together for one goal.

I guess to feel community you have to face a challenge in a group. That makes sense. Fighting, together. Struggling, together.

Today, the struggle is against the temptation to go home and sleep, but no matter the battle, we are in it together. We can complain together, we can fuel up together, and we can celebrate together at the stroke of 5.

Who knew sleep-deprivation and being miserable would help me feel so much better?

Missing Community

I’ve been having the high school feels recently. It’s because my friends still in high school–seniors now, though when I was in school they were freshmen–are on their big senior trip, and it feels like I was there yesterday. It’s so nice to see them having fun in their Facebook photos, but God, I miss it.

I was determined not to miss high school. I don’t, really. There was a lot I didn’t like. I guess mostly what I miss is the sense of community. My college doesn’t have any school pride, and my major is so big no one hangs out together.

I miss being part of an orchestra. That’s really it. A team. A group of people who may not all be the best of friends, but who support each other because that’s what you do on a team. It’s cheesy…but true. And I miss it.

How do you have a community as an adult? I feel like there’s no time for it. I don’t have the talent to join an adult orchestra, nor the time to practice. How do adults have time to do anything fun?

Maybe it’s just practice. Maybe that’s what family life will be–the sense of community I’m missing. I guess I won’t know until I get there.

I hope they’re having the times of their lives.

I am glad that college isn’t a total drag, though. I’m allowed to miss high school a little sometimes, just like I’m allowed to long for the future now and then, as long as I don’t forget the present.