“what the hell was that?” i ask eric.
it’s 10:30 at night and we’re making our way towards the bay bridge heading into san francisco. we were, up until two seconds ago, sitting in complete silence. then suddenly, out of nowhere, we both sang the exact same note for the exact same duration of time. the radio is off – there is no song to sing along to. the highway is deserted – there is no visual cue to start us singing.
“i have no fucking clue.” he replies.
not yet able to comprehend what just happened, all i can think to do is laugh so hard my eyes tear and i’m sure i’m going to crash into something and kill us both.
“your period isn’t due soon, is it?” eric adds. “because if our menses is also in sync, i’m going to freak.”
this has only ever happened once before. in ireland of all places. mona, a fellow cellist, and i decided to sit in the audience to watch the piano soloist perform. he is a young italian who doesn’t speak english and tried to make out with gabi who was roughly 13 at the time. he is an incredible player. as we sit there listening to him, i am moved by the fluidity of his technique. his sixteenth note runs are so smooth i can’t shake the image of ice cream from my head – rich, creamy vanilla ice cream (or, i guess, because he was italian, gelato). at the end of the piece, when we stand to clap, mona looks at me and announces “this might sound really weird, but his playing reminded me of ice cream.”
when we told the others, they either didn’t believe us, or are less amazed and more concerned. “you guys have been spending too much time together.”
“they’re just jealous,” mona will tell me later.
“that’s exactly what i was thinking,” i will reply.
i had a cello teacher that hated me; she hated me because every time i saw her i was physically incapable of playing the cello. i would have forgotten how to ride a bicycle around her. when she told me i had perfect pitch, i actually disagreed with her.
“say the first thing that comes to your head,” she told me, playing a single note three times on the piano.
“F” i said, just to shut her up.
“and this one?” she said, playing another note.
“i don’t know,” i sighed, “…B?”
she left the piano and came back to sit next to me. “F# and B♭”
you know what they call perfect pitch that’s a half step off? not perfect pitch.
the four years i studied with her, she accused me of studying with another cellist behind her back (false), called me a “money player” (true) and told me i was funny and should “concentrate more on that”. she only once said anything nice to me, and amazingly it’s probably one of the nicest things anyone has ever said to me. in the middle of playing for her in a lesson, she stopped me to ask if i’d ever been in love. i was fifteen and pudgy at the time, and, embarrassed by the question, shook my head.
“well,” she said finally, “you play like you have.”
ever since i got back from barcelona, i have done nothing but write and play music. as cheesy as it might sound, i think that when i am so filled with love it only makes sense that it would come out of me as music; music is, after all, love. isn’t it? and i am lucky enough to have people in my life with whom i make music, whether it’s the way we tease each other, how much we discover we have in common, or those moments where we’re so in sync we even share thoughts. that night in the car with eric, if only for a split second, we were exactly on par with each other, and so together, we made music – we even had the A to prove it. or, because i’m a half step off, an A#.
it’s late and this might not make any sense, but i’ll say it anyway. i feel as though, in a way, i was unlocked by Barcelona.
oh españa…what an awfully long journey i took, just to come home.