The group got very quiet


Jeffrey’s voice, now almost inaudible, seemed to reach us through some other channel than sound.


The group got very quiet, as though any careless gesture would topple this fragile construction.I realized I had been taking myself pretty goldarn seriously.Lighten up.It was strange.I had this sense, in that fraction of a moment, that it was possible .After all, it had been once.This realization in itself was so interesting, so new, that for a moment I felt daring enough to go to a pay phone .I called him, and this was very difficult because it was like saying I was wrong and he was right.My pride kept flaring up, I felt very nervous, and a little crazy because I didn’t recognize myself.I was hoping he wouldn’t be home, but of course he was.And it turned out that it was easy to talk to him, even though we hadn’t spoken for quite a while.I told him about the game.And after an awkward silence, I added the other half of the invitation.I do think it would be a good idea if we made love.He was so quiet that I got frightened the other way.I didn’t want to be rejected.And then he said, This call must have taken a lot of courage to make.I was at a loss for words.We agreed to have dinner at his place on Friday when I returned.And then things began to change .I remember walking down a country road and being aware of everything .On the way into town I stopped at a fruit stand to buy dessert, and my eye was caught by flowers in a pail.I found myself arriving at the house Friday night carrying flowers in my hand!Through all my nervousness I had to laugh.Then we were both laughing and throwing caution to the winds.The evening we spent together was like a week’s vacation, but it was also like coming home.We all looked at each other in disbelief.June had become so much more expressive, so much more human than we had ever seen her.Someone asked, But isn’t it important to make some decisions about people’s behavior, to set boundaries and stand firm for what you believe?I answered, Of course, but do you think that is what June was doing?I think she was hurt, plain and simple, as Mark overlooked her time and time again.And instead of revealing her hurt, she built up a case that Mark was dangerous, although he wasn’t a danger in any real sense at all.I think she felt more powerful as the judge, but the diagnosis she assigned to him stuck, and from there arose a story of a guy no one in their right mind could tolerate.When she asked herself, What would have to change for me to be completely fulfilled? June recognized her own calculating self in action.She stopped taking herself and her story so seriously, and suddenly was able to distinguish her husband from the diagnosis she had given him.June added, You know, I realized after that one amazing evening I could have walked away from the marriage, and Mark and I would have stayed the best of friends.I could have said, ‘I’d rather not,’ without feeling resigned or embattled.One of the students in the class was a young tenor who had just landed a job at the prestigious La Scala Opera Company in Milan and everything about his demeanor said that we were to take his recent success very seriously indeed.In this song, the hero is dreaming of the flowers and meadows of a springtime past when he delighted in the warm embraces of his beloved.The gently lilting music conjures up blissful joy, blissful fulfillment.Suddenly a crow screams from the rooftops—he awakens and discovers it is dark and cold.When I have my loved one in my arms again. But, despite the major key, we know from the dynamic markings and the shape of the phrasing that he will never get her back.This music is some of the most intimate, soft, subtle, and delicate in the repertoire.But when Jeffrey began to sing, there was no trace of melancholy.Out poured a glorious stream of rich, resonant, Italianate sound.Pure Jeffrey, taking himself very seriously.How could I induce him to look past himself in order to become a conduit for the expressive passion of the music?I began by asking him if he was willing to be coached.Oh, I love to be coached, he said breezily, though I doubt he had any idea of what was to follow.As each layer was peeled away and he got closer and closer to the raw vulnerability of Schubert’s distraught lover, his voice lost its patina and began to reveal the human soul beneath.His body, too, began to take on a softened and rounded turn.At the final words, When will I have my lover in my arms again? Jeffrey’s voice, now almost inaudible, seemed to reach us through some other channel than sound.

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