Tuesday, June 11, 2013

Tuesday

      An umbrella makes all the difference. With proper equipment, such as a pocket umbrella and thick, rubber soled boots, one can easily enjoy a walk in the rain. Without these items, a leisurely and meditative stroll quickly becomes a philosophical battle against God--an illustration of the concept "man versus the universe," like when Gregor Samsa became a bug or God drowned the whole state of New Jersey (Was that in the Old Testament?)
      Even in heavy rain, a walk is a walk and an excuse to leave the office, where I sit every day, dozing off as the ceiling fan murmurs its monotonous tunes: hmmmhmhmmhmhmhmhm. Because this is a student-centered office, and because there are no students around for the summer, I jump ecstatically out of my seat at the very rattle of the door handle or the electronic buzzing of the telephone. The notion that life exists outside these rooms comforts me, which is ironic if one considers that I spend the day staring at maps and especially computer screens, hypothetical outlets for the imagination;  my imagination, however, now that summer is here and I have no pressing assignments, grows exponentially larger than the office rooms in which I lazily spin day after day after day.
      The task that warranted my soggy walk was a simple delivery errand, yet as soon as I stepped outside, immense determination swelled in me. I must deliver this envelope. I must not get it wet. But what if I should fall into a puddle and drown! Or rather, because the weather has not quite reached Noah's Ark proportions yet, the more likely scenario would be for me to trip and drop the envelop into a wet, nasty puddle, causing all ink to run and smear and rendering the forms illegible. Then I would have to walk with my tail between my legs back to the office and explain like a wounded child why I had not done what I was told. Or if I was too ashamed to admit my error, I would simply sit under a tree until enough time had elapsed that I could return to the office with an air of false accomplishment and simply ignore my sin until the evidence surfaced that the intended recipient had never indeed received her files. Then I would really be in trouble!
     Luckily nothing of the sort happened. Though the wind did pick up, I managed to tuck the envelope between my shirt and one flap of my jacket (I could not zip it because my other hand held the prized umbrella!) and cover the remaining portion with my elbow. This arrangement I carried out quite well until I reached my office destination, ascended the stairs, deposited the envelope in the shiny wire basket on the front desk, and turned around, at which point I could relieve one hand of the umbrella to button my shirt and jacket. This made the return journey all the better, for now I was much more prepared for precarious weather.
      On my return stroll, I encountered something amazing, and since this is my story and therefore a project of my imagination, I will venture the boldness to say that this little encounter was a gift from God or my guardian angel.
       Instead of retracing my steps, I decided to go a slightly different direction, passing by the softball and track fields and then the four story parking garage. And it is here that my little adventure begins.
      Very distinctly, I heard the sound of concert music--in reflection I understand that the music came from one instrument, but to my very hungry ears it seems as if a concert was happening inside the parking garage. I pictured myself in a grand concert hall, dreamily following the ebb and flow of notes, gazing upon dozens of formal-clad musicians hugging and kissing their instruments as sweet melodies cascaded down gold-laden busts, chandeliers, walls and rugs. I was intoxicated. Not in a lustful way, for this music bore no hint of lasciviousness. Rather I can liken the tune I heard to the idea of a songbird. Not the call of a bird, mind you, but the idea of a bird:  a songbird that appears in my backyard in springtime, fluttering from branch to branch or spins in circles with companion birds, light as the feathers they wear. Something about the ascension and staccato bursts of notes imprinted this image firmly in my mind. I was determined to find the source of this beautiful music.
     I turned at once into the garage, scanning the first floor of parked cars, but to no avail. Quickly I climbed the stairs, came to the second floor and again saw a few cars but no music--though I could hear it more voluminously now. Another set of stairs I climbed and was about to continue to the fourth, as I saw no cars, when a flash of silver caught the corner of my eye. I peeked over the corner wall and--there he was! A tall, lanky bespectacled flautist standing in the abandoned third floor--his cement concert hall. The concert master's body bobbed with dips in melody, and his fingers ran up and down the instrument as if caressing it. He never stopped save once to turn the page. How long he had been there I could not know, but he seemed to be in a trance and was casting his spell on me as well. I the helpless victim, the soggy wanderer, had been led by my curiosity and imagination into Mr. Tumnus' cozy cave.
    Of course after a few minutes I was pulled by a string in my heart back to reality and wondered how long I had been standing there awkwardly watching this private ceremony. I could not tell but knew I should get back to the office. With a small bow, I left unnoticed by the master flautist and bounded down the stairs, feeling infinitely rejuvenated.
    I returned to the office, where of course nothing had changed, and I proceeded to write this story. Yet I am still thinking about this boy with the flute, and I admit I envy him. Not that I have any proclivity to flute playing nor desire to learn. As I watched him, I was in awe of his concentration and fluidity, which no doubt results from years of dedication to the music, the fingering, and the performance of concert pieces. But, ah, they are so beautiful! What is it about music that makes me cry? Is it the fullness that abounds when music starts in an empty space? To describe my love affair with orchestral sounds requires more complicated prose than I am now capable of writing. And soon it will be time to go home.
    So I must now leave my exercise in prose and prepare to return to the outside world--the real world, honestly, which is highly scary and all together disconcerting. What if I could have an umbrella to protect me from all sorts of bad news? I'd take the rain any day.

1 comment:

  1. What a delightful story! Next time you encounter a disconcerting world I encourage you to recall this concrete concert you have so coherently described!

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