Tuesday, June 3, 2008


I spent twelve years of my life sitting in a hole in the floor. Okay, that wasn't the only place I hung out. I also whiled away certain hours sitting on benches (piano and park), chairs, sofas, floors, carpets, and grass. I nestled my ample frame into cars, airplanes, trains, tents, and one particularly fabulous canoe. There were notable achievements as well in the fields of standing and walking. So it's not like my life was limited.

My chosen spot, however, was aptly named: prompter's box, or simply, "the box" (that's what the cool kids said). Small and airless, it contained secrets. Gifts, sometimes - no, often, given and received. Inside, I was isolated, powerful, alone, necessary, anonymous, helpful, invisible...but that may have all been my imagination, which had plenty of time to run wild in the mostly boring hours. That said, I sat on the mountaintop a few times in that dusty closet; when I climbed out, its narrowness surprised me.

I never expected to be a prompter in an opera house, and I don't miss doing it, but it was a special privilege. With it came a secret, a surprise, a gift - the possibility of deep relationship. My relationship with music came easy, but that with other musicians - other people - has always been a trickier proposition, intimate and overwhelming. To climb down the rabbit hole with the words and music of genius, my friends all around me (above and below, on stage and in the orchestra pit), and to wait in attendance to see who might need a cue (a word, a note, a smile, a calm breath) was to experience quiet, focus, and connection for the first time. Eventually I could hardly wait to get out of that tiny space, but I had to go in to get out.

Thanks, you odd, exacting, dying profession.


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