12 April 2011
A Good Run
In the bustle and flurry of post-concert frenzy (mingled with passerby students finding classes at the prep college there,) I choked back brewing emotion. Mostly unexpected, I heard my voice cracking to find the words I just didn't know in French in order that I might express my profound gratitude and pleasure of being welcomed into and being part of such a superior group to the conductor. After months and months of struggling to communicatemy thoughts and feelings in another language and make a fair amount of successful exchanges/interactions with multiple scores of situations (and being usually very talkative in my own language but experiencing the frustration of being limited,) I found myself surprisingly short of vocabulary in any language. Truly a sign, even if it betrayed my outer confidence, that I was indeed choked up about the full-on realization I would not be playing with this group--or probably any like it--for a long, long while.
When, in my frustration and stop-loss emotion, the conductor acknowledged as much by stating in very clear English, "You can say it in English if you want." I looked at him just gob-smacked. I said, and I quote (I fell from grace and defaulted to my backwoods kid ways,) "You can speak English?" I mean, of course he could. He's an educated man and English is just as much a requirement to live in Quebec as French is over the rest of Canada, but I felt taken back, a little irritated, and overall astonished. Here I had been putting all my effort into assimilating, taking risks, making an ever-lovin' fool of myself, donning the mindset of a French person to secure the respect I felt for a land that is slowly losing its culture and language, only to insult a very talented, very accomplished musician and conductor who was probably speaking English before I was born.
Whatever manner and composition I had or was trying to regain was smashed into pieces in that one little moment with one rather unknowing comment. There was no recovering. No wonder I couldn't explain the cock-eyed twitch in his neck and posture. So, I did what I do best. I "quirked" it up, exhaled a laugh, and told him what a great experience it had been. (Uh-huh. Sure.) Then I finished with the flourish of fumbling my way out and made my way through a group of people. So much for a refined exit.
Then, I ran into my fellow bassoonist and a few friends. We talked lightly of being done for the season, while inside I felt the finality of forever, and while these kids had been adults in my eyes, before us stood the difference of them having their entire lives in front of them and me getting a 15-year-old start to mine (musically speaking.) In the tiniest fraction of a second, their eyes revealed a sobering moment, realizing that I may or may not ever see them again. It depends on whether or not we cross paths for the single lessons remaining I have at the conservatory with Paskale. Not wanting to be the Debbie Downer and leave that as their last picture of me, I smiled with new excitement as I shook their hands and said, in broken French that I knew would be bad and didn't care to correct, "N'oubliez pas moi!" Then I walked out of the Cegep for what will probably be the last time.
at 11:43 AM