Last night we did our civic duty and dressed up in long columns of exciting dark clothing and went to the Opening Weekend of the St. Louis Symphony. Naturally we got there early enough for David Robertson’s green room. Robertson is a being of light; he hops and dances and his mind is stuffed with information and joy and delight and curiosity, and he will lead you through catacombs and mazes of flowers and facts and dates and battles and salons and you will spin along with him, laughing, shaking your head, loving him, watching his hair take flight all around his head.
And then a half hour later he stops, and laughs, and runs backstage to put on his tails, and you think, how many things did he just say?Photo Scott Ferguson, courtesy SLSO
The thing about Robertson is that magically, when you come to the moments he talked about in the music, later, you hear him, you see him, “this is the moment where the impassive bang, bang, bang of the tympani changes inexplicably and inevitably to the ting, ting, ting of the triangle. F-sharp!” Or, “You know, when you listen to the last movement of The Pines Of Rome, you may think you are hearing Roman soldiers, but you know, it’s about the trees. The trees, from the ground to the sky, it’s all about the TREES!”
I had had a huge glass of wine earlier with dinner and I almost fell asleep during Emmanuel Ax’s ripply Chopin, but this is no knock on Manny (as Robertson calls him, Ax being a good friend and a frequent visitor to the Powell stage) it’s just about the wine, and the ripples, and the proximity to Bill’s shoulder. Anyway. It was fabulous, and we love dressing up and going out together, it feels so nice and we are such a pair of bookends, male and female, tall, stridy. It’s fun. (And I wore the French shoes!)
I was checking in on Facebook this morning, and Cat Mihos put up a link to a Scalzi blog from 2005, a while ago. It was about poverty, and how it feels, just a list of items. It’s the other end of the telescope; dressing up in a silk skirt and going to see beautiful music, being scared you can’t feed your kids. Having things change in an instant.
From John’s blog:
“Being poor is stealing meat from the store, frying it up before your mom gets home and then telling her she doesn’t have to make dinner tonight because you’re not hungry anyway.”
“Being poor is hoping your kids don’t have a growth spurt.”
I didn’t grow up hungry. Never hungry. And a lot of that had to do with my mother’s care with money. When I was small, and my parents were just starting out (mid-60s) there wasn’t much. My dad had a job at a concrete plant, driving a dozer. My mom took care of me. We had a spare and simple house and we ate at home, and my mom sewed my clothes, and it was fine. It was good. Who knew anything else? I was happy and warm and clean and safe.
But she had to be careful, and I started growing really fast, and I remember the night she realized that I’d grown out of all of my sixth grade clothes in the second week of sixth grade, and she cried when she thought I’d gone to bed. I thought about that all that night with a shocky kind of feeling in my stomach; I never knew that it was scary before, or that there might not be enough. That it might be my fault if there wasn’t.
For some reason, I keep thinking of Reagan, ripping the solar panels off of the White House, turning the mentally ill into the streets, firing the air traffic controllers… whatever. And Bush, sending so many people into war and bringing so much ruin, and I look at and listen to Mitt and Ann Romney, and I think, they have no fucking idea of what people are going through.