She had been a musician almost longer than she had been alive. Music had been her childhood focus and continued into adulthood. As time passed though the connection she had once felt dimmed, and she longed for something that she was sure once was, but was now only a memory; connection.
As a kid the connection seemed to be there, when people play music together and there is that wordless communication. She loved that, loved that feeling, but these days it was rare to find. She had felt it most strongly in Ireland when she played in the pubs and seemed to just fit right in. What a beautiful summer that was!
Now she felt old though for her century she was considered still young. 50, 5 tens, 5, “I can learn to write me name real good!” That is what she had thought at her birthday. Another year around the sun, another spiral around the universe, shouldn’t we all be dizzy?
She had grown old, and bitter, and still played. She loved a responsive audience, she loved it when people started singing along as she played, the way the Irish would play along with her. That made her feel connected, that kind of acceptance, like a nonverbal “yes you do belong”. This gig that happened with several of the songs.
In Ireland many years ago at music sessions she had attended, after a few tunes there would be conversation. Topics could be sports, politics, religion, or whatever. And then there would be more music. Those days were not quite all gone. There was a session still in her home town in land locked Ohio. But most times these days after a gig, well meaning people would come up and compliment her playing, her music, and say nothing more. She so longed for the conversation, the further connection.
She had played an early gig and kids had been in the audience. The band had played and were now stripping the set. People again came up and talked to her about how wonderful she was. She tried to show gratitude, but was uncertain if it came across as sincere. She packed away her fiddle and helped strip the set. She was tired, and grumpy, a normal state for her.
A small child approached her. Her mood changed and she put on her gentle side. The child looked at her and said “Fiddle”. The fiddler looked at the parents and asked, 3? The child was almost 3.
“Fiddle” said the child again pointing at the case.
The fiddler opened the case and took out the fiddle and the child looked at it. She showed the child the strings, and how to puck them. Delight came over the child and she strummed the fiddle. The child reached for the bow, which the fiddler took out and the child tried to play the very oversized fiddle. And that was it, the child was done for the moment.
The parents took a card from the fiddler who did teach children this young. The fiddler put the fiddle and bow away, and at least for a moment felt that rare thing called connection in even so minor a conversation, a sweet gratitude. But had it been minor? Not to the child likely. Was that encounter the start of a lifetime of music for the child, or a mere passing of interest? The fiddler did not know. What she did know was her own early experiences with music, and how she had first heard the violin’s voice played by a man she still knew, and wrote to often.
As she packed her car and started her trip home she listed all the things she was grateful for, health, life at all, purpose, home, even if it was just a house now with no family save the dogs. The child’s delight, that had been the highlight of the evening for the fiddler, that simple joy, and that was something she wanted to reconnect with in herself, that was the missing connection she so longed for these days. How though, that was the question she could not yet answer, how to reconnect.
Moira Levant/COCOA2.com ©2017