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Purgatory - Sunday, Feb. 10, 2019
Thursday, Dec. 06, 2012 @ 10:16 am
A week ago, I walk into the band room. Inspirational posters three decades old, perforated ceiling tiles falling at haphazard angles.
There is a new conductor at the front of the room. I look at him, smile, and say, It's nice to have a proper conductor for once!. And he, amused, remarks, So I look like a proper conductor?
And that sets it off, the feelings of nerves and encouragement and excitement when you meet someone that gets you.
He's somewhat lost up there, sight reading the scores, learning our abilities. The strangest thing: he begins to mentally lean on me. He comes to ask me quietly about what we've been rehersing. He looks through my music. He simply looks at me at length.
I try to pretend that it's not happening. I didn't do anything to cause this. Why is he so drawn to me?
I drive away that night, wondering how much of it I made up and how much of it was real.
Last night I walked quickly from the office towards the Skytrain station, rain penetrating my nylons, sloshing over the low gunwhales of my black leather flats. I eat dinnerand make my way to the school.
Walking through the hallways, the water fountains mounted so low, artwork yellowed with age flutters against the poster boards. My nerves sieze up as I round the corner to the band room.
He looks up, directly at me. Well, hello there!
I acknowledge him. And I deflect it, feeling instantly mean.
I busy myself with getting organized. I chat with the other flutes. I smile to Tracey back in the brass section.
When we start rehersal, he begins to pick on me. He asks me to play a phrase to illustrate a point. I flush red and play it. And then later, same thing again. And then, when there's a part to be played solo, he points to me to play it. I crawl into myself, hoping that Tracey hasn't noticed what is happening.
There is a pause in practice as music is shuffled. He looks at me. I look up. A second passes, and I make a nervous little half smile that is just the tip of the iceberg of emotions exploding inside me in that moment.
I like him. Do I like him because he likes me? I like his floppy hair. I like how he thinks out loud. I like that he has put himself out there, in front of a band, pulling us all together into something greater than we'd be on our own. I like his positive attitude and his calm demeanor. I like the way that he looks at me. I like that he knows nothing about me, and that in turn I can be whoever I want. All he knows is the angle of my wrist when I hold my flute, the nakedness of my ring finger, and the width of my smile.
At the end of rehersal, as I'm zipping up my down vest, he comes up to me. We talk briefly, and then Tracey is at my elbow, and I leave with her towards the parking lot.
I want to tell him how good he is at conducting. I want to thank him for forcing us to work through difficult passages. I want to... and I walk away.
Rain falls heavy. Windshield wipers back and forth. The highway slick with an inch of standing water. I feel alive and free and happy. Why? Because someone acknowledged me.