gall and gumption

Tuesday, June 05, 2007

The Right Song

Yesterday afternoon a storm was leaving the area. It hadn't been a real high-energy storm, it was a wet soggy dreary storm that sat and sulked and soaked everything in a half-hearted, passive-aggressive sort of way. Like it was always going to go away and never did. My train was traveling slowly also, and I didn't get home until nearly eight. Luckily I was reading a new (to me) Diana Athill novel with the wonderful title, Don't Look at Me Like That. No, I didn't mean you, I mean that's the title. I devoured it; started it on the Metro to work and by the time the train reached Germantown I had just about finished it. In fact I leaned against my car in the parking lot to finish the last chapter or two. If you had asked me how much longer it took for the train to get home I could not have told you.

Home, I took the dogs out and we walked one of our usual routes that actually crosses the station parking lot and then sometimes over the pedestrian railroad bridge. When we got to the parking lot the clouds had broken up and this peachy-colored sky was visible and the parking lot trees, where the light hit them, were orange. And then I noticed, too, that there was this subtle misty haze breathing up out of the ground and softening the contours of everything.

And that's when I turned on the Schubert Lieder. I've been listening to these for years but never with the kind of attention they deserve, or that I devote to, say, 1950s gospel music. But there's this thing that happens with art, where you crave something, and when you find that bit of art that has what you crave it's ready to talk to you or sing to you. Somehow it all snapped together in this wonderful way -- the train station, the pond, the trees, the fading light, the mist, you gotta understand that the immediate vicinity is not beautiful. Someone usually dumps a shopping cart in the pond and after storms there is this filthy foamy skin on top of it near the banks, garnished with disposable cups and plastic bottles. Beyond the pond, the post office, and looking North, a couple of newish ugly office buildings and some strip-malliness. And yet, it was quite lovely to walk along the dam of the filthy pond and see the mist crossing the railroad tracks etc., it made the music seem almost unbearably lovely.

So that's when I realized I'm having one of those mild bouts of hyperesthesia again. And by God, I intend to enjoy it, if it doesn't kill me. The last one was a couple of years ago. Can't remember what brought it on. I don't know if anything "brings them on."