Tuesday, October 22, 2009 (recorded November 1, 2009)
As I age, I find myself less and less setting out on adventures. The sad truth is, like the ossification of the bones in my spine and near my joints, the layers of my lengthening days seem to weigh me down and my spirit forgets it can soar. Still, every couple of years I remember that I am a creature of the road, and I set out to find those parts of myself that get lost in the everyday business of life.
Such was the genesis of the trip that began today. Looking back just a few weeks, I can see where the journey began. A friend from high school now living in Kansas City, has found me through Facebook and after we talk once or twice, we are unsure how to proceed. I make some promises of a visit to online friends from Kansas City. A friend of a friend mentions a violinist who ignites my passion for music. Although from Germany, he just so happens to be playing in Kansas City the third week of October. My mind clicks into “why not? and what if? mode and I’m off, planning a five day trip to spend time with people that are all but strangers, to visit a town I haven’t seen much of since my parents moved away nine years earlier.
Planning a trip with the internet at your fingertips is a delightful treat. Places that were just dots on a map 10 years ago are now available for intimate analysis with Google and tourism websites. I love art and music and architecture and theatre and finding out the wheres and whens of these types of venues in a city precisely 444 miles away is simple. I find the theatre where my German violinist is playing, we order tickets, I look at Google Earth in a street level view and begin to plan the places I will walk that night while waiting for the concert to begin. I hear clips of the music he will play. I see photos of the inside of this lovely restored theatre, I map the trip down to assure I arrive in time to refresh and change for the evening.
On my library website I search with the subject matter “Kansas” and “fiction” and land on the book In Cold Blood by Truman Capote. Ah yes, I think, as I reserve it on CD, this will be the perfect brew for the car trip down. Hour after hour of excellent prose, a sparse, hungry tale read in a pleasant voice will keep my company and be part of the whole experience. I pack hastily the night before, feeling less fearful than I often do just before an adventure.
Although a little later than anticipated, thanks to some smatterings of rain and the ubiquitous road construction, I arrive unharmed and after a brief flutter upon seeing the bountiful property at which my high school buddy resides, we settle in as if the time had never passed.
When I approached this outing I did not anticipate I would be received with such warmth and honesty. The world tells us that when one travels back 27 years, artifice will prevail as the characters seek to show their lives as amounting to more than they have. It is a week of finding that not all of what the world instructs is true. Chris is as real and transparent as the day I last saw her, and this puts me at ease enough to honestly share my own heart.
Her three children are also a delightful surprise. The oldest, Kinsey, is an auburn haired spitfire of a girl, bright and rich and full of life and more certain than most preteens feel they have a right to be. She immediately wins me over by engaging me in conversation, as so few children do with adults these days, and by the welcome note and candy she leaves on the pillow of her bed, which she has given up for the week so I can be comfortable. The youngest, Kyla is also a delightful little sprite, the type of child that even old curmudgeons cannot resist grinning around. She tells me while dancing around the table that she just got braces, that she loves gymnastics, that I look older at 45 than her mother who is the same age. I am entranced for the rest of the visit by her impish ways, by her ease in asking for what she needs emotionally, and her assurance that she will receive it, one way or another. Finally, the boy, Cole, buried in the arms of an oversized leather chair, seemingly lost in a popular TV show, but I can see the sparkle in his eye, the curiosity and the joie de vivre bubbling just beneath the surface. At once, through the review of her children, I know that my friend has become a great mom, providing those ingredients essential to becoming a successful adult; fortitude and resilience and a way of looking at life as if seeing it for the first time each day.
We head outside to visit the horses; we had planned a quick ride before the concert, but the rain has not cooperated and so we feed them, and I nuzzle Rusty, the horse that was born a year before I entered Christine’s life, and who was lost to her for over a dozen before she was reunited with him in his old age. The times we had with this horse – it was horses that initially brought us together beyond the school chore Chris had been assigned of leading the new girl, come midyear to this sleepy little country school, through the first few days of her classes. Seeing this elderly rust colored equine brings back memories that I thought were lost forever. I’m again taken with just how much of my past has been buried. Will the excavation prove positive and helpful? I can smell it, like a scent both exotic and familiar; this trip will be a success.
We change, wolf down a little pizza, instruct the children and head off to our concert. We talk almost without rest throughout the half hour trip. So much to share, so much we find in common at the heart level. Our lives externally appear as if they have taken vastly different paths, but when examined at a deeper level, chords of a similar melody run through both. As we discover this the conversation grows more and more interesting, and I think very early we both see that our friendship will continue now, we’ve come home to it and found it both a comfort and a spark.
We arrive at the theatre, the building a work of art in itself, the seats we have are close enough to give the concert an intimate feel and I discover after only one number that the slick background music quality of his CD masks the magnitude of his skills, and the artistry of his band. David Garrett must be heard live; his music is moving in recorded form, but it blew us away in person. I am notorious as a crier when it comes to the power and magic of live music. This concert is so much more than I expected the tears stay frozen inside. I find myself forgetting to breathe, forgetting that this is real. On break, without realizing it, Chris orders us each a glass of my favorite red wine. The concert restarts. The band is not merely adequately supporting Herr Garrett, they are in fact nearly as brilliant as he and each piece washes over me in different ways than the one before. Chris, who has not researched his music beforehand, is equally enamored. It does not hurt that he is achingly beautiful as well. We head home to apple crisp and ice cream and several more hours of rewarding conversation, and I easily drift off to sleep, feeling safe and happy as a patch of coyotes howl their complaints outdoors. This is a place of joy and safety, I cannot feel their lament right now.