Skill U: 3.5

Journal of H. W. | honey.walker@skillu.edu

Week Three, Day Five – Sophomore Year

Editor’s Note: Honey’s journal entries are numbered according to week and day of the week. As she does not keep daily entries, gaps appear in the numbering. Please see the Table of Contents for the full listing of entries.

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I have a new best friend! I met the gardener as part of my assignment that my maestro gave me. “Become friend of the world!” he said.

When I asked him why he spent so much time visiting with the Villareals during my first lesson with him, he replied, “A musician cannot play alone. A musician plays for all the world. And to do that, ma cherie, the musician must befriend the world!”

Then, he assigned me to wander through town, meeting and befriending as many as I could.

I must admit, I had to psych myself up for this project. I’m not a very social person; I’m happiest when I’m by myself practicing.

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It’s so beautiful here that I hardly feel the need for people–maybe my maestro is wrong, and I can just play for the beauty of nature, rather than for the people of the world.

But I remembered his words: “The artist is not in isolation. The artist is part of the living fabric of the world! Go! Live! Make Friends! Fall in love! This is life! This is music!”

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So I tucked the songs of nature into my heart, packed my violin in its case, and I headed to the center of town.

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People at the café were friendly, even if it was hard for me to find what we had in common.

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For the next few days, I visited lots of cafés and parks and met so many people.

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I brought my violin with me, so I could sneak in a few hours to play.

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At the end of each day, when I returned to the Villareals’, the solitude and quiet felt as nourishing as supper.

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In addition to befriending the world, caring for the Villareal kids has been keeping me busy.

Max needs a lot of attention.

“Is that what you wore to school?” I asked him one evening. “Your PJs?”

“These are not pajamas!” He insisted. “These are Super Spider Rocket Man secret-power-ranger spider clothes.”

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I’ve decided to use his active imagination to help keep him in line.

“Did you see that?” I asked him when we were playing chess outside. “There in the shadows! It’s Shadow Man. He’s always watching. So just remember that the next time you feel like yelling at your sister. Because if there’s anything Shadow Man hates most of all, it’s when sisters get yelled at!”

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Fortunately, Hugo doesn’t seem to need much, except someone that he can practice his jokes on.

But Luna seems hungry for the advice of an older woman. And that’s an area that I’m really not equipped to handle!

She asked me about love the other day. I didn’t know what to say. I’ve never been in love with anything except music!

But I remembered what my mom told me when I asked her about dating.

“School comes first,” I told Luna. “Wait until you have an A before you start to date. My mom always said that love and romance really complicate things, so get your own life in order first, and then you’ll be in good shape to start thinking about dating.”

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“But that will be forever!” Luna said. “I only have a C now.”

Later, when I checked the household’s phone messages, I learned that she was right! The school principal had called. None of the kids were doing well academically. Hugo and Luna had low C’s, and their grades were dropping. And Max, the Super Spider Rocket Man, had a D.

“When do you kids do your homework?” I asked Hugo.

“We don’t,” he replied.

“You don’t? Well, that changes right now!”

Surprisingly, they didn’t put up a fuss. They all three pulled out their homework, sat at the kitchen table, and with jokes and smiles, completed their work by the time I got out of my shower! I didn’t even have a chance to help them!

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It was as if they’d just been waiting for a grown up to tell them to do their homework all along.

I realized then that their dad never really tells them to do anything.

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He seems off in his own world. He’s affectionate enough with his family, and he enjoys telling them stories of his youth, but I’ve never seen him cook for them, or make suggestions about what they might do next, or offer any guidance at all.

Frankly, I feel a little nervous around him.

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I’m a little less nervous when he’s properly dressed. But even then, I don’t really know what to say to him. He seems to appreciate having me there. Whenever I feel a little unsure about being there, I just remind myself that my focus as an au pair is the welfare of the kids.

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I’m lucky that being an au pair doesn’t take a lot of time and I get so many hours a day to devote to my music.

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I’m also never-endingly grateful to live in such a beautiful place. Every day, the vistas take my breath away.

I love to stand in the meadow outside the Villareals’ and feel the snow-chilled air that slides down from the mountains and across the sea.

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The beauty of nature feels as integral to music as the notes I play. I know that my maestro insists that a musician should be a friend of the world, but I think that maybe a true musician needs to be part of nature–like a wood nymph or a fairy.

I decided to see if I could combine both my predilection for nature and my maestro’s order of making friends by going to a park.

And that’s where I met the gardener.

I asked him about his plants, he asked me about my violin, and before we knew it, we were deep into a conversation about miracles!

“What draws you to gardening?” I had asked him.

“What draws you to music?” he asked in return, and I started to explain about how when I play music, I reach a point where I feel the vibrations through me, inside my body, and then it’s like a door opens up, and I escape, and all that’s left it music! That’s what I play for.

“A plant is like that,” he replied.

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“There’s the part we see–the leaves. The stalk. The flowers or fruit. There’s the part we know about. The roots. The cells. The veins that carry fluid and nutrients. But what else is there? There is something indescribable.”

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“Call it essence,” he said. “It is what fills the form and makes it alive.”

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“And isn’t that the same as music? It is a structure filled with essence, and it is that essence that makes it alive.”

I think maybe my maestro was right! In befriending the world, I have met one true friend of the soul! And what I learn from him can only make me a better musician.

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