Tuesday, November 3, 2009

On God, Music, and Sex

DISCLAIMER: Any and all statements against German music and organized religion, all deserved pokes, jabs, or violent kicks in the crotch thereof is purely non-coincidental, so deal with it.

We had talked about it the night before for what seemed like the thousandth time, laying in each other's arms in a hotel room in Jacksonville, but this time it seemed different. Here was this guy, a man I had come to love, a man who had treated me unlike anyone, male or female, I had ever dated, and he was telling me we couldn't be together, the only reason we couldn't be together, was because of religious differences. I was too liberal, not feminine enough, pro-choice, aspiring career woman, I was too intellectual, and in his words, "Too much philosophy and not enough God." I comprehended his words, but I heard something different-"You aren't good enough because you're not a straight conservative who's only aspiration in life is to be a stay at home housewife." He had told me repeatedly throughout our relationship that I was enough for him, hell he even wrote a song about it, but I didn't feel it. Don't get me wrong, I knew he was genuine, but there were days I did, and days I didn't. I don't need to tell you, which of the two that moment was.

So lets set the stage, shall we? It's a typical weekend in Jacksonville Florida, where I had never been before. It's the morning after I first shared a bed with a boyfriend, even though we weren't you know, sleeping together. I'm awake at nine in the morning (when I usually consider myself lucky if I'm out of bed before eleven). Oh yeah, and I'm in a choir rehearsal. Now that's normal. I've been singing for thirteen years and if I wasn't, I don't think I could have gotten through middle school, let alone high school. Everyone has stuff they do. Some people are artists, teachers, writers, and all sorts of other things. For me, music is what I do.

So I'm up there on the top row singing first soprano (For those of you not yet into the musical lingo, those are the insane women who go freakishly high and have a tendency to shatter glass. Some of us even like to have contests to see if we can shatter glass.) and trying to concentrate on my music. As much as I love to sing, and believe me I do, its kinda hard to love German (which I believe is a vile language anyway) at 9am on a Saturday when you haven't had your coffee yet, you went to bed at 2am after making out with your boyfriend, and not to mention, all the alcohol you drank the night before. But I digress. However, the social drama du jour and the conversation I had had with my boyfriend the night before, insisted on replaying themselves in my head. A pleasant distraction from the German, yes, but still no coffee, a slight hangover, and you're stuck in a four hour choir rehearsal with a man who I decided was trying to make a sacrilege out of Robert Burns.

Which is what we were singing at the moment, by the way. A gorgeous piece set to Robert Burns' poem "O My Luve's Like a Red, Red Rose." Its one of my favorite love poems ever, set to a beautiful piece of music. How fitting for a column relating to Valentine's Day, eh? Oh, and the song is in English. Maybe I can handle English at 9am on a Saturday when I have a slight hangover and haven't had coffee yet. But I digress. So I'm trying not to make eyes with a cute girl in our choir (And it didn't help she was standing in close proximity to my boyfriend) and thinking about the night before, while singing this song set to this beautiful poem, doing what I love most in the world…and all I can think of is him and what he had said, or what I had heard when he said what he said. "You aren't good enough because you aren't a straight, conservative, Christian with ambitions and opinions of your own."

I really couldn't help the way I turned out- a free thinking bisexual, pro-choice, liberal, agnostic who is going to school for Music Education and English Literature. I want to have a career, and the choice not to play housekeeper to a husband and five children. My grandmother raised my mother that way (even though my grandmother did have five children, and played housewife until her first marriage ended and she learned the value of independence) and my mother, thank the big friendly smile in the sky, my mother raised me that way. That it was okay to question the person I was, to know that girl inside out and once I figured out what my convictions were, hold fast to them and never let them go for anything or anyone, boyfriend, girlfriend, lover, friend, husband, or wife. Both my mother and my grandmother taught me the value of choice- to marry or not to marry, to have five children, two children, or none at all.

When I picture the future, I don't see myself living in a three bedroom house in the suburbs, trouncing my five children off to soccer practice, piano lessons, karate, and whatever else, in addition to keeping up with the house hold and my husband. Oh, and how could I forget the icing on the cake, which is of course dressing up my pride and joy, my reason for living, my darling Joshua, Jonathan, Tobias, Julianne, and wee little Mary-Katherine (We're Irish Catholics I imagine, so I have to have at least one child named Mary) in their adorable little dresses, suits and ties, and herding everyone into the mini-van, scurrying all seven of us off to Mass. You get the idea.

In actuality, I see myself living in more a place like I don't know, San Francisco, doing my "day job"- making a respectable (though highly under-appreciated, believe me, I know.) living teaching the youth of America to love music during the week, writing my novel and doing activism work on weekends, and tending to my numerous cats, dogs, and goldfish in a modest two bedroom home as close to San Francisco Bay as possible without breaking the bank. I see myself with an occasional lover-male, female, it matters not. But that's it, really. No wife, no husband, no children are seen in the above picture, at least not at this present moment. Maybe I'll get back to you on that if my biological clock gives its two-minute warning. In short, we have starkly different ideas of the future, Johnny and I. And mind you, we weren't even talking about our future per say, just what we wanted out of life. I was okay with that, he wasn't. That's why we had our little talk the night before, after drinking not nearly enough alcohol and making out all night. Which brings us back to the rehearsal.

So the director, remember he's the same man who is making us learn that vile German (To which one kid said, and I quote, "I'm not learning German. I already know another language in addition to English." I was amused.), and making a sacrilege out of Robert Burns' poem "O My Luve's Like a Red, Red Rose". Are we all on the same page? Good! So this director, who is just more than slightly exasperated because he had lost the battle with that vile German song this particular morning (he won the war in the end, but we won't talk about that) turns to the women and says, "All right ladies, one more time and you can have a break. Start from the top of page eight, measure 50 where the sopranos come in with 'I will love…' "

I catch a quick glance at my boyfriend, talking to the cute brunette I had been eying, and I sigh. He isn't flirting with her, I know that much. After all, he considers himself "single but spoken for" (by me) and I had heard on the grapevine this morning my cute brunette was soon to be someone else's cute brunette, someone who wasn't my boyfriend. I didn't have to look at my music to know where he was starting. It was the climax of the entire piece, and my favorite line of the poem. And, so it seemed, exactly what Johnny and I had been talking about the night before. Ironic, isn't it.

For the longest time, I have had this theory we have an ability to catch the eye of someone across a room and with a smile, you can have an infinite conversation without saying a word. Its been proven true, because its happened to me several times. And it happened again that day, that moment, at that rehearsal, while singing those lines.

He told us to think about those lines, to sing them as if we meant it, as if we've been in that sort of pain before. I'll cry for you if you'd like, Mr. Insists-on-Making-a-Sacrilege-of-Robert-Burns-Who-Is-Making-Us-Learn-Evil-German. Hell, I'll probably cry anyway. And I did. I sang those lines, looking directly into the eyes of my boyfriend:

I will love thee still my dear
While the sands of life shall run
Though it were ten thousand mile…

Even though we were so apart by differences he felt we couldn't overcome, and I had to realize we couldn't overcome them if one believed we could and one believed we couldn't, we still loved each other. And at that moment, when I sang those words, gazing into the eyes of the man I loved, I knew those ten thousand miles wouldn't be crossed. And profusely so I cried, I had to leave the room for a good ten minutes.

In the end, I wish I could tell you Johnny and I made up, reconciled the religious issue, and we got back together. But we decided to be friends, I'm still a very contented agnostic, and we're not together anymore. I decided in the end it was better to be with a man (or a woman for that matter) who appreciated me for who I was, than someone who said he or she accepted me and then tried to change me. I don't call that acceptance.

This little tale of mine can be seen as a parable for a lot of different things. Be it race, religion, gender, sexual preference, or any other such silly bullshit that drives people apart. The moral of the story is simple. When you find your convictions, stick to them and don't let them go for anyone. I shall leave you all with a quote, because it seems rather fitting:

"I only decide about my own universe. My universe is my eyes and ears. All else is hearsay."
~ Douglas Adams

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