Today is C's birthday. She is 5 YEARS OLD. How this came about, I do not know. To be honest, I am profoundly grateful that my children are getting as old as they are. Small children are adorable and lovely, and very very demanding. I have discovered a not so great truth about myself which is that I am rather self involved, and by no means a natural caregiver. So the only thing that makes me a little bummed about this birthday is the fact that I too am five years older.
And also that as C matures we're gradually losing some of her hilarious verbal errors. Like calling nostrils snorkels. And hard tack, heart attack (the boys like to make it, as it consists solely of flour, water and salt and is perversely satisfying to gnaw on). And toast-on-bread for ordinary toast. I think it sounds much more elegant that way, actually. Like Stratford-upon-Avon. Or Aix-en-Provence.
We got her a fish for her birthday, by the way, a Betta, as she wanted a pet, and we figured this was the lowest maintenance animal around, and probably the hardest to kill. As evidenced by the blue Betta owned by her 9 year old brother, which has happily survived for more than a year, and has been foully mistreated for most of that time. If he can keep one of these things alive, anyone can (okay, in case you think we're monsters, we do monitor the situation--just a mite loosely).
In the evening, after C's very pink and purple party, J and I went for a much deserved evening out. We saw (heard?) Verdi's Requiem at the Symphony, because J had seen the flyer and figured the piece was pretty much the equivalent of 19th century heavy metal. As it turns out, he was kind of right. But that aside, it was -- just an unforgettable, powerful experience. J had reserved our tickets on the spur of the moment just a couple of nights before the performance. He asked for the best seats available, as the show was largely sold out. So we arrived and wandered around looking for our seats, and it seems we were in favor with the gods, or maybe they felt sorry for us, considering the party we had put on earlier. Because it turns out our seats were two rows back from the stage and absolute dead center. We were literally ten feet away from the conductor (Bruno Ferrandis) and four soloists, who were in turn surrounded by the orchestra, and finally a chorus 150 voices strong. The soloists were Theresa Santiago, Susan Platts, Richard Clement, and Dean Elzinga-- the names don't mean anything to me, but I figure I should mention them.
I've never had seats like that. You could see the effort, the concentration of the performers. You could hear them breathe. I could see a little place under the conductor's tails where his shirt had come untucked. It was all so very human, and yet the sound they made, all together like that. All those people, every last one trained and talented and committed, working together to make this thing that was so more than the sum of them. I could really see that, and feel it, because it was all right there. The conductor was tall and thin and had enormous hands. He was wildly expressive, actually leaping up in the air sometimes as he conducted, completely immersed in what he was doing. As J said "That is one intense m--f--". The mezzo soprano looked nervous until her parts were done, and then she relaxed into the most beatific smile. The soprano was distant until her solo at the end and then she came alive with a soaring voice that brought your heart up into your throat. The tenor seemed a little bored and distracted--I liked him the least, but then, I don't generally like tenors. And the bass looked a little like one of the monks from The Name of the Rose, but he had a beautiful, resonant voice.
Anyway. J and I talked on the way home about that kind of experience, where your body can barely contain the way you feel, like something is rising up, reaching out, I don't know, exaltation? I get it at plays sometimes, too. And something akin to it while painting (when things are going well), but it's not exactly the same thing, because I think there really is something about a whole group of people, and how in the right circumstances, when they are working together, everyone is greater than they ever could be on their own. We were talking about how everyone should be able to feel that way more often.