Friday, January 21, 2005

Musical Interlude #1
(Part of an occasional series, I hope.)

It might not surprise you to learn that the first semester of my senior year in high school (OMG THAT WAS TEN YEARS AGO [hush, you, it's barely more than nine]) was not one of the happiest periods of my life. Sure, my junior year was great, but by senior year, there was the stress of college applications, I had assumed a little more responsibility in various organizations than I was perhaps ready for, and I desperately, desperately needed a girlfriend -- for the sake of brevity, let's just say that things had not been going so well on that front by the time a dark December night rolled around. On that particular night, I had to do a paper for my AP American Government class (on Texas v. Johnson, if my memory serves me correctly). I had put it off to the last moment, as usual, and about 9, I set off for the USF library. (Since my father, at that time, was still teaching for USF, I would occasionally borrow his ID so I could use the library there. The principal advantage was the extended hours, which I was taking advantage of in this case.) Anyway, to sum everything up, I wasn't in the best of moods when I set off, and by the time I arrived, the darkness and the loneliness and the stress had combined to make me miserable. Then, just as I was pulling into a parking spot, a song came over the radio. I sat there in the car and listened to the whole thing, and it was so beautiful, it had a nearly magical effect on me. By the time I got out of the car, I still had work to do, but it felt manageable and I wasn't so unhappy about everything. It's the first time I can recall that a piece of music had anywhere near that profound an effect on me.

Needless to say, while I've tried to replicate this effect later, it's never been quite the same. It was just once of those unique confluences, the right event at the right time, and I'm sure that trying to make it happen probably makes it less likely to work, too. It's still a pretty little piece, though. That piece was the Bergamasca from Ottorino Respighi's Ancient Airs and Dances Suite No. 2. (This was back in the days when I still listened to classical music on the radio some of the time. But that's for another story.)

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