Sunday, November 30, 2008

New World Symphony

I used to leave the radio on all night. The classical music station went off the air sometime late and resumed broadcasting at six in the morning with gently bonging wake-up bells. That served as my alarm. I was always awake then anyway.

"Did you sleep good?"

I said "No, I made a few mistakes."

Steven Wright.

After a few minutes the radio station would start its music. I played classical guitar and I was learning music theory in a special class at school. It was my thing.

I also sometimes listened to an unformatted college station. They were totally weird. Neither ever had commercials.

There was time to read the newspaper before high-school. I always liked that. We had the Times-Union delivered. The morning all to myself... a nice way to start the day. Then I walked to the corner and waited for the school bus.

There was this guy named Kim who lived behind us, their little yard backing up to ours and separated by a wire fence. Being a year ahead of him, I didn't hang out in his circle, but he went skiing with us once in a while. His father was the television repairman.

One day Kim was showing pictures to other kids on the bus. I caught a glimpse of one. A dog was licking a naked young woman's private parts. It sickened me.

I was sitting next to my friend Anita who said quietly "Wait a sec. That's Rex." She recognized the dog. It was Kim's german shepherd. The girl in the picture was his older sister who didn't go to high-school anymore; at least not ours.

I hated the housing development we lived in during my high-school years. All the houses were the same. Four hundred of them, but just four different models with slightly varying yards and paint-jobs. It was situated way outside of town. There were no stores, parks, or public places. Nothing to do. Nowhere to go.

I envied my friends in town. Saratoga Springs is beautiful. Many of them lived in stylish older homes.

They could walk to the public library, which occupied the northwest corner of Congress Park.

Some of my friends had after-school jobs. One did odd stuff at Ben Serotta's bicycle shop when it was just a little place. Another worked in the kitchen at Lillian's, before it moved and got bigger.

I did sports and took the late bus home. It was a long ride because it covered a route for all the kids who lived outside town. I'd get home after six. There'd be supper and homework, then I'd practice.

Me and my friends; we didn't talk about the pictures again.

I heard Dvorak for my first time on the radio around then and I made my mother drive me to the library so I could borrow a recording. I've heard dozens of interpretations since. Quite a few live symphony performances of it too. It's best that way: live in a concert hall. It's so vast.

What a fantastically good, really majestically transporting work of music... but it's hard for me to listen to it. It never resolves its grief.


GingerJar said...

I've never been to a symphony. I probably misspelled that too. I lived in a small town in a run-down house just a block from the High School. I was forced to quit band because my step-dad said it was too expensive (cost $1.00 a year for the rental on the instrument), and kept us from doing as much work as he wanted from us (he had a tree cutting business and needed the drones to work stacking brush and hauling stumps and cutting up firewood). I missed my music. I have guitars now, but am just now learning how to play. Somehow, I think it was easier when I was younger, to learn that is.

Thank you for sticking up for me on my blog when anonymous wanted to ridicule me for misspelling a word "Yankauer". I actually don't know if I ever noticed how it was spelled. I was just releasing emotions from my pressure cooker. You know how it is.

Ruth said...

Saratoga Springs is lovely, I even have tried the springwater from a fountain there. One of my favorite race tracks, as well.

We also lived in a house that was small, in a development of 'ticky tacky'. My parents had a large home in the best part of town, which they kept and remodeled to live in after the kids were grown and flown.

wunelle said...

What Dvorak are you referring to? I don't know that I have anything by him; I'll have to sample.