Today I sat in a coffee shop of a Tuesday night, like so many other Tuesday nights in Glasgow, and had a cuppa and some chat with my fellow second sopranos… and then, when time came for rehearsal, they walked away up the hill, and I walked back to my rented flat, and to my life, in tears.
Even a year and a half after leaving them, I miss my choir friends something fierce. The memory of rehearsals, concerts, and music ringing in my ears is something that is never going to leave me. The synergy of striving together to perfect a thing, the trying and failing and the sheer grit and triumph. Singing in Polish! Mastering a trick run in Verdi! Holding each other up in a long performance, taking our bows, and feeling the endorphins raise us up… there will always be a place in my heart for the friendly people who were interested in me and my life – something that I hadn’t experienced in a rather large and busy, anonymous city. They are part magic, part of a treasured time, like a little bright piece of tinsel left over from a really good Christmas.
Ironic that it falls today, this day of memory – the fifth of November. I write this amidst a backdrop of fireworks sounding all over the city, as people half celebrate, half commemorate something they don’t really understand anymore. Once there was this guy – and he was going to kill Catholics? Or Protestants? Or… somebody. And so, we burn him in effigy, and everyone has a nice cider, outside, with fireworks… Remember, remember, the fifth of November. Memory. A bedeviling, chancy thing, but sometimes all we’ve got.
Not gonna lie, I’m sitting here, still sniveling, just gutted right now, as my Scottish friends would say. Just crushed that we’ve moved away, and moved on, and this isn’t where my life is anymore, and all I’ve got is memories. I don’t know, right now, how I’m going to negotiate this, how I’m going to take what I learned here, what I had here, and find it again… but I know that my memory won’t fail. This time, and this place, is locked into my heart and mind. No matter that I’m not here, I’ll always have it —
But, the evil little inner voice says, memories fade and fail. You won’t always have them. True – but I’ll have these long enough: long enough to use them. Long enough to recall what it is I want out of a life – long enough to help me find that. That’s really all I need right now… the memory.
And for this, even this hard thing, I give thanks.