some nights take you by surprise. they tap your left shoulder and come ’round the right. they jump out from behind the door. they take your expectations and throw them on a roller coaster – spinning and speeding and swirling until you’re not entirely sure which end is up.
thursday night was one of those nights.
my expectations were these: i was there to support Z in yet one another of his musical incantations (he was conduting a high school concert), but it was a high school concert nevertheless, there’d be some music and uncomfortable chairs.
the reality was this: walking into a high school after hours feels slightly forbidden and wrong, even if you’re no longer in high school and haven’t ever take any classes in this particular building. i sounded like a teacher walking down the hall in my (straight from work) high heels. there were 5 people in the audience i knew, none on stage (except Z). 2 of those 5 were visiting from australia, which is the original reason i decided to go. i was ready to cheer for Z as he conducted one of the nine songs of the night.
the kids, all in matching white shirts and black pants/skirts, filed onto the stage. they giggled and whispered and set up their music. the awkwardness was palpable. i said a quick “thank you” for no longer being that age. i got out my pen to take notes on said awkwardness because i am, after all, working on a story about middle schoolers – prime awkward age. the conductor raiser her arms, the students raised their instruments and i wondered again how i came to be here.
all at once, the violins began to make music and i stopped wondering about life and took a deep breath. the music filled the room. everything was in unison – their clothes, their elbows, their arms, their fingers, their tapping toes, their backs straight, sitting at the edge of their seats. but it was the transformation from bumbling teenager to accomplished musician that was so astonishing. they were in charge of the room. they were leading us. they were showing us their talents. they knew, without question, what they were doing.
i thought i was there to watch (one of) the conductor(s), but it was the kids who captured my attention.
the music caught me off guard. it was gorgeous, both auditorally and visually. i was reminded just how different live music can be. the crisp sound. the way the arm moves. the focus on their faces. the delicate placement of the fingers. i may be tone deaf, but i know those kids are talented and it was impressive. they were no longer awkward, but confident. no longer giggling, but serious. no longer young, but old.
i found myself sitting at the edge of my seat. trying to get closer to the music. trying to touch their talent. trying to learn how to look like an adult when you’re not quite there yet yourself.