Summer House: Ch. 3


C minor chords crash through the house. I can play as loudly as I want, as late as I want. The other side of the duplex sits empty. A family has rented it for the summer, all paid up through Labor Day, but they haven’t yet moved in.

I play Beethoven’s Fifth Sonata. It’s one of the easier ones–considered light, insignificant. But it still exacts payment in emotions.

During the school year, I can’t play Beethoven. I play Bach each morning: preludes, inventions, sinfonias. As I play, the loose tendrils of dreams become tied back onto the trellis, and the nagging fears and sorrows slide back into drawers. Bach spring-cleans mind and soul. When I stand at the front of the class, with twenty-five students gazing at me, if I’ve played Bach, I keep the attention on the day’s lesson, and I become unimportant: a cog in the engine of learning, and the students are the drivers.

I don’t dare play Beethoven before a day of teaching.

I play the Fifth Sonata in the summer house, while the other half of the duplex sits empty, while the ocean batters the beach below, while the clouds roll past the lighthouse towards the music room where no matter how pianissimo I play, chords crash down. Each minor chord severs the tether of another tendril, empties another drawer, and runners of the dreams grow through the spilled emotions, no matter how quietly I play.

This is why I can’t play Beethoven during the school year. I am raw, exposed, vulnerable.

But I play tonight.

It all swirls–before I realize, tears stream. What am I crying for? For the c minor chord. I feel these are not even my emotions–these are implants from Beethoven. What channels did he connect to that move through me?

Glaciers melt, and the sea inside opens, as waves crash, again, again.

I play until my fingers stop, and in the silence, I rise, following the shafts of moonlight out to the back meadow, to the bluff, overlooking the sea.

During the school year, I have to step back, always, from the precipice. If the ice flow melts, how do I move through a day? How do I keep it all together if I’m drowning in the release?

Sometimes I don’t think there is such a thing as silence, for when I become still and quiet, I listen. My pulse beats. The waves crash, again, again. My breath runs in shudders and long still rows of in and out. And beyond that… if light runs through everything, every crystal of every being, then we can hear a hum that is either too high or too low for our everyday ears but which we feel when the crystals within each of our cells resonates. I always hear music.

During the school year, I stop my ears more than I listen, for when I hear, the ice flows melt.

In my computer, in the inbox of my email, sit five messages from the department secretary, each asking the same question: When will I sign and submit my contract?

I have a few weeks until the deadline.

Right now, Beethoven has hooked me up with a channel of feeling, and the ice flows have melted, and the moon shines down, and the waves crash, again, again, and my pulse beats, and everything sparkles. Everything hums.

This I know: I want what is real.

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