Wednesday, April 3, 2013

Back in the Saddle

Last night, I blew the dust off my trumpet case for the first time since my dental adventures began and I hauled my carcass to a rehearsal. This rehearsal was filled with actual musicians with actual musical abilities and the sounds that they made were emphatically, undeniably musical.

Me, not so much.

However! I kept the horn on my face the whole time and some of the notes I played pricked my memory and waggled their little fingers at me: "Don't you remember? We used to do this all the time. We were a team, and sometimes when the moon was full, we were good. Together, we were the music."

Regardless of what actually came out of the bell, my mind swished around the old notes, the ones from before that were sweet and full and brilliant. Before long, I was drunk with it, swept right back into the way it used to be when my horn and I spent every day together, back when we were the music.

It got me thinking about some of the people who have experienced homelessness that I have had the privilege of working with over the last few years. Some of them survived on the streets like stray animals for decades, longer than the scant three I've been on the earth, and they did it without fanfare, without certificates and trophies emblazoned with "Best at Staying Alive", without so much as a blink from passersby. I'm willing to bet that every single day of that time, at least one stray thought took them back to before, when they didn't have to ask permission to do the simplest, unavoidable things, like go to the bathroom (and be turned down). No doubt they thought about the times when they were called "sir" or "ma'am" by store clerks instead of "shoplifter" or "suspicious" just for how they happened to be dressed (which, again, they don't have a whole lot of choice in). For some of them, they could look down at their hands or rumble up a hum in their throats to remember a time when they were the music, too.

I salute everyone who has ever taken a dive over the side of their horse for one reason or another, and had the guts to put their foot back in the stirrup, swing over their leg, and settle back in that saddle.

None of us would get very far without a few second chances and a little patience from the good hearts of the other musicians in the room, the ones who know that we've been where they are, and that tables (as tables are apt to do) could turn at any moment.

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