If we met a guy like Gaston today, how would we respond?
How would we like to respond?
Think on that for a while.
If we met a guy like Gaston today, how would we respond?
How would we like to respond?
Think on that for a while.
Opera is ridiculous. One night, I have a constant close-up of an incredibly-endowed woman’s exposed nipples, and another is packed with the gag-inducing stupidity and lovey-dovey total BS drama whose only competitor is telemundo’s telenovelas. Actually, they are almost all packed with that last bit. Most nights, eye rolls abound, and we occasionally have to restrain intense laughter at the nonsense of people’s declarations of what their love must mean and be able to do, or else what their rage and fury must now cause. Tonight was one of those nights.
And yet, it is such spectacular music, it is what I long to hear most evenings, as I am settling in at home for the evening. I feel as though most of the dramatic operas are best when the words are not understood. Otherwise, they are all just idiots, and you really don’t seem to mind at their dying (slash you kind of want them to hurry up and just die already).
Let us be clear here: I love opera. It is just painfully dramatic and ridiculous at times, that I just want to punch people and hit a fast-forward button, so that the stupidity will end already. I get enough of that in real life. Let’s not dwell on it so dumbly in our entertainment.
Have you ever seen the musical West Side Story? If you haven’t, go watch it. I hate it. It takes what was once for me a spectacularly and distantly comical situation of unreal reactions – Romeo and Juliet, by William Shakespeare – and places them into a modern-day(-ish) setting, and makes it more real than one could ever want it to be. Seeing it tonight, I was disgusted by people. It is just like how I hate Elaine in the TV show Seinfeld – she reminds me too well of people who make me angry in life, people who seem to ruin everything. So, too, was my experience tonight. These people were, for me, the epitome of closed-minded, undereducated, and monocultural individuals in our world. Quite frankly, I wanted just to remove them all from the gene pool immediately, and lock them up in some way… it had me wonder if that was how the whole Australia situation started, because I found myself looking for a similar situation. You guys can go blow yourselves up on your own private little island, but you don’t get to be a part of the real world, because you just ruin everything with your behavior.
Anyway…, the music of West Side Story is spectacular, and I love it. Fortunately, I am already being able to disregard the story and to return to the music as I had known it before: splendidly fantastic. I was genuinely worried after the performance if I would be unable to enjoy the music ever again, because I now had such a horrible association through the actual show. However, I believe the association will be lost easily once I am finished sharing about the show (in less than a minute).
So, yeah. Go watch West Side Story. It’s good. It really is. It’s just a musification of what I believe is one of the worst parts of our current society… and, apparently, has been a terrible part of society for a long, long time (and quite possibly even in Shakespeare’s time, seeing as how he wrote the original scenario anyway… I always just thought he was making it up as a worst-case scenario on all fronts, not as though all the general stupidity was already taking place, but hadn’t ever been arranged in such a dramatic order.).
I have two things on my mind right now: opera and emotions.
Tonight, due to the gracious encouragement of a new acquaintance, I found myself attending a unique performance, called “Glory Denied” and put on by Houston Grand Opera and HGOco. The main character is a man in the Vietnam War, who becomes a prisoner of war for nine years, and then eventually returns to the USA. The story, essentially, is how his life falls apart throughout it all. It is sad and tragic, and the music only makes it more so. The setting of the performance being an old airplane hangar that has turned into a museum added to the show itself. The comedic and especially unique bit of the night was the fact that directions to the bathrooms included going “around the helicopter tail.”
Now, this opera was sad. Period. And I knew it was sad beforehand, so I made an effort to stay detached from it. I have a history of becoming too engulfed by something to be able to separate myself from it fully. When I read books, it is so easy for me to fall into the narrator’s experiences, that I find myself being agitated in life, if the narrator was agitated wherever I left off in my reading, or giddy and joyful, if that was his/her mood. I even take on phrases and mannerisms of the characters, and ask myself questions that I am accustomed to reading (or hearing, if it is an audiobook) from them. I’m not sure that I’ve been ever as on-edge, frown-y, tense, and distrusting as I was while listening to the Hunger Games audiobooks. Life was intense during that one. That is why I wanted to keep my distance tonight, because I know people have very intense experiences when it comes to war.
As I watched the opera, I found myself wondering if these people, the performers, ever have to deal with such a thing as I do. Do they have repercussions in their daily lives, due to the effect playing that particular character had on their mental state? Do they find themselves questioning their sanity, when they have been playing a character whose scale leans too far toward the insane? I wonder.
And I almost succeeded in staying separate from the emotions of the characters. I made it through most of the show safely, but then a surprising part hit me hard. As the main character begins pouring out the shattering sorrows of adjusting to a changed world, back in the USA after nine years of imprisonment, I was dragged into his experience. Tears rolled slowly down my face, unbidden. No, I have never been a POW nor even been in a war, but I have been in my own version of that same homecoming. No parades, no parties, no photos nor celebrations. Life around me is unchanged by my silent arrival to the country I call home. Did they even notice my return? The characters sang of the expectations a returning veteran might have of his family and friends, – that they be as loving and excited about him as they were when he left, and that they were missing and thinking of him as much as he was of them during his absence – and of the unstable feeling of returning to a physical world – one in which he had always felt stability – that has altered dramatically, and even unrecognizably in places.
I know this experience. Again, not the whole war and POW stuff. Certainly not that. Living abroad several times, I have been in my own version of this veteran’s experience after the war. I have learned and improved each time, and I have done my best in more recent years to prepare myself for how people will have changed by the time I return to Houston. No matter what I do, though, there is always a sort of anticipation, a hopeful expectation of how they will be. They will be the best versions of themselves with me, and their love will fill me constantly. They will be patient with me, and gentle. They will be interested in my experience since I have been gone. All of this, because they have missed me and thought longingly of me as I have of them, throughout all of my new struggles in this new life I was living temporarily. And then, when I arrive, finding that this is not the case, they are not as I had unconsciously expected, it is confusing. I recognize the place and the people, but they are both different from what I left, and I cannot quite see how or why. They have not been through what I have. They have not had my struggles. So why do they not comfort me and love me as I have so needed during my absence, as I so need now? They are different from how I remember them, from how they have existed in my mind while we have been apart. But so am I, and I see that they have mistaken who I am now, for an image they have built of me inside their own minds. They can see that I have changed, and I can see that they have changed, but we don’t understand one another’s change, and it is difficult to cope, to fathom, even. And there is always that extra edge of my experiences having been good reason for me to have changed, but theirs were not.
I have not been in the military nor in a war, but I know this small, unsettling, and somewhat worldview-shattering experience of coming home to a now-foreign home. As the lead character raged about his home being so not like the home he once knew, I was dragged into the pain, feeling my own current struggles of readjustment coming forth from deep inside. I am still living in his pain today, though I have been back for a few months. And it hurt even more still, as I saw that my own experience of struggle has lasted so long, although I was only gone for a year this time. How terribly long this period of struggle must have been for this man, must still be for veterans returning today. I went from peaceful times to peaceful times, and my pain still lingers. They likely did not and still do not have such peace on both ends.
I am forever grateful that veterans have made that sacrifice of ease, in order to do what they believed best to help the world at large. I am concerned that we do not do enough to help them with the latter end of their tours, with their returns and readjustments. It is difficult enough altering a regular lifestyle in one culture to a regular one in another culture, like what I have done so often. It is practically unfathomable to go from comfort to a war zone lifestyle, and then back to a house in a safe, city life lifestyle – is the brain ever ready to cope with a change so drastic and so quick? I found myself wanting to hug and hold the characters in the show all tightly to my chest, and to fill them all with love and acceptance of whoever they are and in whatever place they are mentally/emotionally/psychologically. ‘You are safe here, you are important here, and you are perfect as you are.’ I know it was only a show, but it exists only because the story itself is real, and all too common, I believe.
“Y’all have a good night,” I sat in a casual, comforting, and somewhat raspy and deep, womanly voice.
“You, too… be safe,” they both respond, accompanied by a casual wave, a smile, and a dip of the head by both of them.
This happens as I walk out of the school, close to 10pm, after the theatre production. These two men are the police officers on duty.
I love this…. these kinds of interactions. The men would have been ignored in so many other places I have lived and visited. They are sometimes ignored by people here. But it is also normal for that little interaction to take place, especially around here.
Yes, I love this, I think to myself with a smile, as I walk to the car. I love living here. I love the South.
A friend of mine suggested I write about dating life in a foreign country. However, I cannot entirely speak to the subject, because 1) I have not dated anyone here, and 2) I haven’t really dated people back home either.
However…., I do have some interesting dating and dating-ish stories I could share. So, I’ll do that instead. 🙂
We’ll begin with my first date, as it was, indeed, an odd beginning to an odd history of dating.
My high school boyfriend and I split up the summer before college, out of being reasonable. How it happened is a story for another time, though, as it is well worth telling, but just not now. We remain to this day friends, and so were on good terms as the summer neared its end. One day, when we were in the same place, John (that’s his name, you see) did something adorably wonderful. He asked me on a date. No, I do not remember the exact words he used, however, I remember that he did use explicit words quite similar to, “Would you go out on a date with me?”
While we had been a couple, we had often laughed at the fact that we had never been on a single date. Every time we were arranging something that would have ended up as a date, we found ourselves desperately longing to invite so-and-so to come, because he/she would just LOVE it, or something like that. It wasn’t that we didn’t want to be alone together. It was merely that we love our friends and we are generous. Also, a good amount of the time, my mom would be with us for things. She often would be planning something really neat, and I would be going with her, and one of us would think of how John might enjoy the activity, too, and then either pick him up or have him meet us somewhere to join in the activity. A lot of people found it odd that my boyfriend and I (and often my friends, too) did so much with my mom, but it was just way fun for all of us. That being said, most John’s and my one-on-one time was spent standing outside his house as I was about to drive home at night, and never on actually going out to do anything (i.e. dates).
So, he asked me on a date. The plan was to go out to dinner at this great vegetarian Indian restaurant near my house, and then to go to see a musical together downtown. John was driving (and not I for once). When he came to get me for dinner, it was sprinkling beautifully, and we somehow ended up going swimming (or at least playing in the backyard in the rain) instead, and my mom went and picked up food for us. The three of us then had dinner at my house together. At the musical, the two seats that John had purchased (with the help of his father) turned out to be across the wheelchair section from one another, leaving a gap of about a meter between our two seats. I squat on the ground next to his seat for a bit, and then I think we eventually moved to a couple of other empty seats, so we actually could sit side-by-side. It was a fabulously tragic date, which we both absolutely loved, because it was so terrible on paper, but so delightful in experience.
And that was date #1.
A few years ago, I attended something called VIRTUS Training. It is essentially a seminar for people who will be working at schools, for them to learn about identifying child sexual abuse. In other words, it was a seminar on child sexual abuse. It was at this wonderful seminar that I met my second date – or so I believe it was my second date, anyway. He was sitting near me in the training, and I think wasn’t even in my discussion group. However, we exchanged various faces at different things throughout the evening, and ended up in conversation afterward. After probably a good half hour of talking outside afterward, he very beautifully expressed that he had enjoyed talking with me very much, and would I like to continue talking over dinner some time soon? I agreed, and I gave him my number in order to arrange the dinner at another time.
For the dinner, he told me that he was “old fashioned”, and so was it alright that he pick me up for the date? I originally agreed happily. However, my sister told me it was a terrible idea, and got me all nervous, because I didn’t really know this guy, and what if it went horribly? (It went wonderfully, but still, she got me nervous nonetheless.) But my worries proved pointless, because, as I had just purchased my new car the day of our date, I had to take it for my family to see (and test drive, of course), which put me behind schedule for our date. Since that was the case, I just met him at a restaurant midway between where I was in town and where he lived, so he didn’t have to wait so long nor have to drive all the way to my house (which was quite far for him).
I eventually ran into him again while I was still working at Starbucks, but it was quite busy at the time, and so we really didn’t get to chat (though I totally wanted to do so). I had not saved his number, and so couldn’t call or message him again after that. (Sometimes, you just don’t plan on getting a new phone before you’ve saved a number, ya know?)
And that is what came of date #2, when I met a guy at a child sexual abuse seminar.
My third date, in my opinion, is the best of the three – yes, there have only been three – and also the most uncertain. It is uncertain, because I simply hadn’t known that it was a date, and I’m still not certain as to whether it was a date. You may judge for yourself as to whether it was a date or not. 😉
In France, there is a wonderful carpooling website, which helps anyone travel almost anywhere normal in France (and even to nearby destinations in neighboring countries). I used it constantly for travel while I studied in Toulouse, and therefore used it again when I went to visit a couple summers ago. It was in this carpooling from Paris to Toulouse that I met this party boy.
We didn’t talk much on the drive (I slept mostly, and he talked with the other passengers.), but we did a bit near the end, and he asked for my Facebook. I felt no aversion to the guy, although I knew that we led very different lifestyles, his being a party boy and my being…. well, just not. I like dancing and music and all, but not the drinking like crazy part. He had even offered me a section of his sandwich on the ride. because, I know you, so, of course, we’d share your sandwich. 😛 I liked the guy, despite our obvious differences. He was just really open and friendly and honest.
And, as a bonus, quite handsome. Think tall, dark and fancy hair, tanned skin, and quite fit. Yes, he could carry me quite easily in his arms. (I have no idea why that is something I notice about guys – whether they could carry me or not. I just always notice it.)
Turned out that his apartment was literally the next street over from the AirBnB where I ended up staying. Via texting, he asked if I wanted to get a bite to eat with him one night. Yes, of course. (I’d be eating alone otherwise, and he had been great company already.) ‘Do you want to meet me somewhere, or should I pick you up on my scooter?’ Scooter, please. (One of my dreams in life has been to ride a scooter with a cute guy in Europe, thanks to MaryKate and Ashley.)
So, he picked me up on his scooter, and drove me to a cool restaurant in a part of town I’ve always loved. We sat outside, and it was fabulous. I had him order for me whatever he thought was best to have. I’m usually more of the raw vegan diet type, but I roll with the culture these days, so I graciously accepted a delicious and innerly-pink steak. We chatted and had a great time, and when he went in to pay, I followed a bit behind, and asked what I owed. He, a bit surprised, said that I owed nothing, as he was paying for everything. It was my turn to be surprised, but I did not even consider that this was a date – perhaps he’s just really nice to the foreigner girl visiting his hometown.
And so, we went and got some beers from a store, and he showed me around his huge, old-fashioned apartment, which he shared with this rich guy with a really nice car, as he put it (I don’t remember what the car was, but it was legitimately a very expensive car.). We hung out and talked, and it was totally great. When I finally reached home, and told him that I was home safely, he sent me a message that had me suddenly see the evening in a slightly – meaning entirely – different light. It was in a light and friendly way, and even with a wink smiley face, so it was not meant to be nasty or inappropriate. However, he said that ‘he would have preferred that I had stayed there.’ Oh, my… At last I came to the sudden idea that this might actually have been a date. I then got super excited that I was not only on my third date ver (Whoohoo!), but on a date with a gorgeous French guy, and IN French. How cool is that?! Way cool. Seriously. It was awesome. Dreams fulfilled that I hadn’t even dreamed up yet.
And that was date #3. I think, anyway. 😛
Those have been my three official-ish dates (I’m still not sure about that third one). They were each wonderful in their own ways, and I find none of them to be too standard (slash at all standard). I loved each and every one, and I look forward to raising the bar each time to more ridiculous scenarios surrounding my dating life. (I need to share about my coffee dates and the likes, too. Those have been fun, for sure, and very international.)
I’m super tired now, so I’m going to sleep. However, I plan to continue with the coffee dating and other date-related things that weren’t actually dates. 🙂
The thing about music is that it is incredibly powerful.
Siting around, waiting for my dance class to start, I was listening to music just now. A few songs came on from a musical our theatre did several years ago. As I listened to the female lead sing her song of love to the male lead, I was suddenly transported to a different time and place – I was right back in the preparations for the musical, way back when we were putting it on.
I could hear the director talking about casting the female lead, every word as clear as though he were sitting here with me, like all hose yeats ago, and chuckling at the end of it all. I remembered verbatim what he said. I do every time I hear this song, and whether I want to or not.
Just one small part of the power of music, you know?