The Present

I don’t even know where to start. Life is a combination of tiny glimmers of new starts, grief over so many things lost, flickers of hope, anticipatory depression.

I woke up this morning and looked for a nice outfit to wear. I’d be lecturing, after all. 

And then my heart gently reminded me that the school where I lectured for ten years doesn’t exist anymore. This still didn’t seem to stop an overwhelming sense of epistemological muscle memory; I had a yearning at least three times today to go grab a coffee at the store in the university library.

I worked hard on distracting myself. I got to teach a couple of private lessons, and the tantrum my toddler threw exactly three minutes after she woke up helped to snap me in to the present. I got all my emails done in front of a marathon of Grey’s Anatomy episodes, stretched out on the couch, petting my cats. Things I would have certainly wished I was doing at some point this semester had I been in my office. I finished editing my podcast episode and started contacting interviewees about the next set. I wrote down lists of house projects. I texted my husband about dinner.

But there’s not anything that can distract you completely from the fact that in another timeline, you’re planning your term for your chamber orchestra and music appreciation class, and practicing and putting in bowings for your next orchestra concert, and discussing what size your child might be in Halloween costumes next month and if we can work out trick-or-treating on the coast because you’ll have a gig there.

My community of classical musicians are all gripping tightly as we helplessly swing back and forth on this emotional pendulum, from a sense of all we’ve lost to a sense of all we’ve gained. We never have this kind of time and space to be creative or pause and feel. And yet, we’re keenly aware of exactly how we’ve been granted it.

We’re strong, resilient people, us performing artists. We know at our core that we can handle this.

But we don’t want to have to. 

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