There is a beautiful verbal exchange in Pride and Prejudice between Mr. Darcy and Miss Elizabeth. She has just been taken to task for not being a piano proficient, and in turn she has taken Mr. Darcy to task for being antisocial. Both deficits, it seems can be solved by practice. I do so love the language of Jane Austen, so delicate and yet so clear. I am afraid I am more Mr. Darcy than Miss Elizabeth.
I have a few people in my acquaintance. I have never endeavored to amass an enormous sphere of social contacts, having always lived a more insular life, even as a child. I love deeply and freely but not loudly. Living love loudly takes practice. And I must admit a certain aversion to exercise. I like to think those who know, know and if you don’t know you probably still know. One way or the other.
Like those soundbites describing how true friends need say nothing, can be in each other’s presence for hours or absent for years and then one day the phone rings and it’s as if no time has passed. My management style exactly.
Within my sphere, I have had the pleasure of acquaintance with some profoundly talented and bright people. Beautiful people, really. I have been lucky. And blessed.
When for the first time I ventured out as an adult by myself I was going to college, pursuing music. Having been active in my high school’s vocal and theatre departments I thought I had some decent background for this pursuit. I was not prepared, truly I was not.
One of the first into whose path I was tossed, became a teacher, a mentor, a friend. He was the kind of guy everyone wanted to know, get a piece of. Larger than life. His artistic pursuits were so numerous, so varied and so thickly interwoven one would have thought it would take an army of people to hold it all down. His name has been dropped so often he could be mistaken as the Bill Gates or Oprah Winfrey of my college set.
We became acquainted through a series of entry level courses he taught. Deepening our relationship by singing together in the small chamber group which progressed to singing in his jazz vocal group. I was thrilled when he asked me to sub the girl singer spot in his big band. I knew then what the wise guys must feel when they became made men. I was in.
There were eight guys in the band. I was young and naive and most of them treated me like a little sister. My teacher/mentor/friend, the band leader was notoriously on sleep deficit. Surviving sometimes on a couple of hours of sleep a night for days on end, gigging, teaching, writing charts, traveling. Wash, rinse, repeat. One of my new found brothers advised me: keep him awake by talking about two subjects, baseball or sex. I was screwed. I would be hurtling through the night at high speed in a van packed to the gills with equipment, and no idea what to say to keep him awake. Nothing needed to keep ME awake.
I had the privilege to ride shotgun with him for four years. It was definitely not four years of baseball lingo and sex chats. I found someone to whom I could speak without having to worry about being understood. In some ways I think he knew me better than I knew myself. His advice was always spot on and he never treated me like a kid. Our conversations ran the gamut. Excluding sex and baseball.
In the final part of my college career I had two private studies with him. One was an indulgence, since it was a private jazz piano session, and my piano playing certainly wasn’t up to snuff (perhaps if I had practiced?). The other a music analysis course. Given a piece of music each week, I had to deconstruct, analyze and then verbalize the results into a 5-10 page term paper, hand typed. Each week. Did I mention this was each week? It was one of the funnest classes I had. It allowed me to indulge so many aspects of my personality and then play it to an appreciative audience. What not to like?
That class became a catalyst for what was to become one of the most momentous events of my life. During one gig commute, we talked about my nonexistent love life. I still remember every word he said to me and then what he did practically in the next breath. At the gig that night, he corralled one of my band mates. This guy was brilliant, talented, funny and sensitive. And preternaturally shy. Mr. Brilliant was told he would walk a mile for a girl that could write a term paper like I did. Sexy.
It worked. Mr. Brilliant/talented/funny/sensitive asked me out and soon became my husband. My friend/mentor/band leader had now become my Yente. I do not like to use the word debt, as there would be no way to repay it. But it earned a permanent place in my personal pantheon.
Some of the most profound compliments I ever received came from him, which I hold in my heart. Buried treasure. But unfortunately as life progressed and my management style set in, we didn’t keep up. I failed to practice.
So here I am, breaching the silence of those interstitial spaces in our relationship. Loving loudly.
I love you man. Djeet?