Sunday, April 27, 2008

O Fortuna

I grew up under the influence of my mother and brothers' musical tastes. My father doesn't really go out of his way for music, and my sister was usually in a foreign country or studying at IU. Most of my brothers were long-haired headbangers, the oldest formed a metal band and composed songs and played bass. The basement was filled with Iron Maiden posters that gave me nightmares and my ears have been constantly ringing since the second grade. Skid Row was my first favorite band, I had a penchant for singing Anthrax songs on the elementary school playground (while swinging as high as I could with my eyes closed), and two of my brothers performed Metallica's "Nothing Else Matters" for my wedding processional.

My mother listened to NPR and classical music. She took us kids to see The Canadian Brass when I was about four and she indulged my show tunes phase in middle school. She didn't expose us to classical music to raise our IQs or make us more worldly, it's what her mother did and she carried it on.

My birthday was Tuesday. I got pneumonia. Since Christmas had been so heart-wrenching I had hoped I could celebrate my birthday twice as much to compensate. Instead, I was sick as a dog and had to rally so I could take my chemistry quiz. Later I watched my brother shake Obama's hand on TV. MacGyver surprised me with a cake, the cake surprised us both by coming out gray. It was that kind of a birthday.

My aforementioned brother bought concert tickets, but his date couldn't get off work. I had just recovered enough to not have to cough out my lungs constantly, and I had just enough notice to slash and burn a season of growth off my legs and toss on a dress and a red leather jacket. We went to Carmina Burana. You have no idea how much I grew up loving this music. I played the CD nearly every day for a period of my life, I played it enough I was practically marinating in it, absorbing it through my skin and burying it in my bones. Hearing it again was like cells woke up and neural pathways lit familiar roads home. I watched the conductor perform his frenetic dance before the orchestra, like a magician commanding elements of chaos to transmute into sonic rapture. Two rows behind us a woman whispered fiercely, "There's somthing wrong with the salad!" I had to hold my breath to keep from laughing.

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