Tuesday, November 15, 2011

Kinds of Blue

Freezing fog, gorgeous from my window, shrouds the glowing city. The Stefansdom spire lost in the mist, the unlit Christmas lights strung over the Kärntnerstrasse, the steps to the Albertina painted like the Monet waterlilies, everything blurs in the watery air. People are wrapped in down coats with furry hoods, or maybe they didn't plan and so hurry by with their hands shoved in their pockets and their scarves wrapped high over their ears. I was in the latter group last winter, but now I'm strolling with the former, on my way home through the cold night, snacking on the icy air and still tasting the horn solos Paul dished out in the warm little club.

He played the blues tonight, a group of guys joyously rocking the tunes, laughing and smiling and joking the sad lyrics. "Glück im Unglück", said my colleague a few days ago, not speaking of the blues. She was talking about a friend jumping into the last opera in our Ring cycle. Too bad about the friend who had to cancel, but oh how glorious the substitute. She brought down the house (a little opera pun there for my geek friends). The orchestra was detailed and monumental, grand under the famous conductor, one of the best in the world, and we were all in the Loge to weep at the beauty of it and to cheer.

And since then I have felt a little sad. Not the scary sadness, but, well, blue. I met the beautiful substitute ten years ago, at another opera house. There was also a great orchestra there, under the leadership of a great conductor. The Rings I had the pleasure of working on there were life-changing for me. The first ones came when we were newish in New York, still missing Seattle but starting to get the hang of things. The community aspect of working on the Ring (Wagnerians are a clannish bunch) was such a part of becoming rooted in the city and in my job. That house, and that conductor, were an arrival point for me, a seminal part of my professional life. Now that era is coming to an end, as all eras must. But that's been just an idea to me. Something about being in the presence of another truly great Ring this week made the penny drop for me: the first important era of my grownup professional life is past.

Digging a bit deeper, past work, it's simpler: those people are still incredibly important to me, and I miss them. There's the second shade of blue tonight, passing my subway stop, turning onto my street, past the Apotheke, the Altwaren shop, the Mittelschule, in other words, my neighborhood.

Home. A complex little word, that.

It's easy to identify the stresses of moving. Everything's new: the job, the apartment, the people, the language, the habits. Learning all the new info is hard. But there's another part. I believe some of that first year suffering is your whole self dragging its feet as you try to adjust, denying and refusing the whole way, because it knows better than you that you're about to lose something.

My new Ring family made me long for the old one. Jazzland tonight made me miss the OK Hotel. Siggy's guitar playing makes me hear Ken. Glasergasse in the cold is so far away from the warm nights on Thornton Road.

Vienna is full of friends and familiarity and warmth now, but that means that another set of relationships and loves has receded. I've done this before, and I know that I get to keep more than I lose. But tonight, turning my key in the lock of my door, entering my home at the end of a day filled with people and music, I hope it does no disservice to anyone here if I allow myself a cup of tea and a slightly melancholy blogpost. So much other music and so many other people are on my heart.

dkz

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