a year later, at a composition recital, corey took the same piece but set it to five chords he scrawled with crayon--his counter-tenor pushing into the grey stone of fairchild chapel. playing the chords on the decrepit upright, rather than the well-tuned steinway grand, with his back to us singing up rather than forward--stretching out the prosody as far as possible. "i... i... i miss... i miss her..."
that might have been 1998. kim would have been living in chicago at that point. my parents still lived in tokyo. i was dating--probably--becky. or was it 1999? kim would have been in baltimore, my parents would have just moved to groton, and i would have been dating clara-who-had-not-yet-changed-her-name-to-hiroshi.
chicago and baltimore or tokyo and groton. it's hard to tell whether they would have been departures or returns.
when i first performed "closing statement," i thought i knew what it was about. corey probably thought he knew what it was about, too. i was most likely very indulgent. 20/21-year-olds often are. of course, 31/32-year-olds can be, too. i forgot about that piece. probably on purpose, like how you forget the water is cold when you've been swimming in it long enough.
corey wrote another song. he used yvan's words. "your absence has done my hands a favor. i now know every fold and wrinkle of my body." i think that song used toy pianos and accordions.
when i played my thesis for mom, she gasped. it was for full orchestra. a full semester's worth of meetings with the only faculty member who could bare to look at me. she said, "wow. it's real music." i guess she didn't think any of the other recordings i brought home were. that's what four years of conservatory training are meant to do--create real music. i didn't tell her about the mathematical charts i taped to my wall. or the fact that i really had no idea what it would sound like until the day the chamber orchestra played it. the string players hated it--no vibrato and notes sustained over several measures. they don't like counting measures. i hated string players.
mom was always confused about my admission to a conservatory. "i never thought you were very... well... i knew you LIKED music."
i remember standing up from the table and spitting, "but you put it in my head! 'be the first female conductor, you have such careful hands. you're so sensitive.'"
i was the one who took a hobby too far.
kim still has much of my music in her itunes. every time the one recording of me singing plays, she says, "kt's on the radio!" i still blush.
it was one of my first gifts to her. a cd of corey's music with a guest appearance by me. it wasn't even a gift, really. she saw a stack of them and said, "can i have one?" and even though i barely knew her, i couldn't think of a reason why not. she was being so nice and attentive. i told her, "i wrote the song and words for my mom." she looked at her shoes. i'm still glad she has that song.
eight years later, on a stage in saratoga springs, i squinted at the limelights and looked down at julieta sitting on the edge of the thrust. the only words that came from my mouth were:
let me hold your small handjulieta's abuela had died a couple weeks before. and most of our conversations were about our filipino american girlfriends. julieta looked up at me dewy-eyed and we fled to the wings as the viewpoints session moved on.
let me hold stroke your thin hair
let me carry you in my arms
let me see you
kim and i had been coming off a fight that day. the training was coming to a close. i was reluctant to part with my new friends. but i couldn't wait to come home.
that last thanksgiving, kim came up to groton to visit. mom had pulled me aside and said, "thank you for coming up separately, leaving me time to have with just you." it was a week after my birthday. we were in the living room when mom decided to give me my belated present. it was a men's dress shirt from land's end and a red tie. kim and mom sat close to each other on the couch, both beaming as i modeled my new duds.
kim said, "doesn't she look so pretty?"
and mom replied, "she does. yes, she does."