Tuesday, March 25, 2008

How the cello acquired me

What a week it has been since last I posted. Humming & sparkly & chocolaty good. GeeWhizBang & all that. I'd take it apart & give you all the details, but then it might stop working. (Who am I kidding? That's just an excuse to give you the highlights & get on to the rest of the beauty of the here & now.)

(I started off doing highlights, but then I got into this looong story, so that's what the blog became.)

I just had my first cello lesson, kinda sorta. I called the guy who I'd met playing on the street last week & it turned out he was going to be there again. I'd just made my first attempt at tuning the cello & the A string would instantly slip back into relaxed mode, so Martin was going to see if he could get it fixed up for me. Alas, the A string broke--I guess it was serious about being on vacation. But, he did get me going on some wristy, elbowy exercises & we're going to get together after I once more have 4 strings. Perhaps we'll try for some location other than a bench on a sidewalk in downtown Asheville.

Plus, by virtue of this very blog, I now have a new friend, a young cellist from Arizona. (Hi Chris!) I promised him I would tell the tale of how a woman who's about to celebrate her 49th birthday (coming up on Earthday) had acquired a cello.

So there I was, visiting some poet friends in Mankato. I spent the night & headed out bright & early the next morning so I could make it to a meeting in Wanamingo. I should say cloudy & early, for such it was. Plenty early, though. As I approached Faribault, a town I had never entered, I decided I had time to stop for a latte or somesuch. There was a music store between my car & the coffee place & I was curiously drawn to it, but it wasn't open yet. I thought perhaps I'd have my java jolt & then pop in before I left town.

By then the sky was looking green & dark & menacing. I love thunderstorms, but not necessarily for driving in, so I dashed for my car, reluctantly running past the music store. Just as I reached the car, the clouds let loose. I almost took off, but common sense prevailed, so I ran back to the coffee shop. What a storm! The town--or at least the part that I was in--lost power. I lent my flashlight to a woman who worked across the street at Subway, because she needed to go into the windowless back room & ice the ingredients. (Yes, this is that kind of story, long & subplotty. I won't be in the slightest offended if your thought is, okay, so this chick acquired a cello--next & skip to the blog alternative. I promise the flashlight is relevant.) So, I & the owners & another wet person or two--for I had been completely drenched on my return dash--waited out the storm. By then I was late for my meeting, which wasn't a big deal, but it did mean I had to bypass the music store yet again.

Anyway, went to my meeting (this is Wednesday, 19 July 2006, if I'm remembering correctly) & only after I'd returned home did I realize I'd left my flashlight behind. Oh, well, I thought. On Saturday, though, I was going to (yet another!) concert at the Crossings Gallery in Zumbrota, a mere 30 minutes or so from Faribault. Hmm, I thought, I could go back & get my flashlight & go to the music store! The thought gave me a little shiver.

You may think from this that music stores are a major hang-out of mine, & that I am a musician. Welllll...I have a guitar, which I bought my first semester of college (Sir Robin, named after the minstrel in Monty Python's Search for the Holy Grail) which I have sporadically played around with over the ensuing 3 decades but never enough to keep a really good crop of calluses. I have a harmonica, with which I took a community ed class, but never really mastered. I like music & come from an extremely musical extended family, but I was never what anyone would really call "a musician." (I have mostly thought of myself as someone who wasn't really a musician, but in the past couple years I've really changed the way I think, so I am ready to say that I am a musician--as is anyone who has the desire to be so.)

Anyway, to make a long story long, I drove to Faribault & walked into the music store & told the man that I'd been mystically drawn there on Wednesday, but forestalled by the storm. "I have a strange to desire to purchase a musical instrument," I told him. "What I'd really like is a cello, but since I don't know how to play the cello, I should probably get a harmonica." I looked around a little bit & decided I'd go have another latte & cogitate on my harmonica. When I returned to the music store--with my flashlight--it was 15 minutes before closing & the guy was doing his end-of-day paperworky stuff, so I began to wander around the store & discovered, in a back corner, a cello! I went up to the desk & stammered, "There's a cello." He said he'd forgotten about that & asked me if I'd like to look at it. Omigosh yes, I wanted to, so I did, & I cogitated for, oh, about a minute, & bought it. Now there's an impulse buy for you.

So, why did I want a cello? Because I love the resonance, the long, low sounds that make my body part of the instrument, even when someone else is playing. Have I always wanted one? Honestly, the thought hadn't really occurred to me to own my own until shortly before I actually did.

I made happy cello-y sounds on it a few times in Rochester, & it was one of the things I stuffed in my Pontiac Vibe to come to Asheville to pet-sit for six months. There wasn't a good place for me to use it that would have been safe from cats with claws & a dog that really likes to chew things up, so I left it safely in its case. However, I've been in my apartment for just over a year, & it has hardly been touched. Until today.

& not only did I have a cello lesson, but I got my guitar out & played a few John Denver songs. The fingertips on my left hand are feeling the tingle of unaccustomed use. My soul is beaming at me, for claiming musicianship.

& I am going to finish this off & get on with the rest of my evening.

Blog alternative:
118. Become a musician for a few minutes. If you don't have an instrument handy, there's always a table & a couple of pens or pencils to use as drumsticks. Or use your voice.