2001-02-24 - 12:56 a.m.
Tomorrow I will do the dishes, write my Urgent Action letters, tackle the stack of filing (which still outweighs The Cat), type up assorted drafts and revisions, and thwonk out the alto line of "The Bud" (a piece arranged by the choir's music director) on the piano until I've nailed down the fourth I keep overshooting into a sixth. Tonight has been given over to decompressing. When I got home, I threw the groceries into the fridge and then promptly flopped upon the sofa, The Cat happily flopped upon me, and together we listened to my favorite parts of Closer Than Ever, starting with the "It's Never That Easy/I've Been Here Before" duet, and then going back to "She Loves Me Not," "The Bear, The Tiger, The Hamster and The Mole," "Miss Byrd"...
I discovered the show via another disc called Second City Divas: Women of Chicago Musical Theatre, on which Roberta Duchak and Joan Krause sang the "It's Never That Easy/I've Been Here Before" duet. The version on the Original Cast Recording is fine enough in its own right, but the rendition by the Chicago ladies is the one that raises the hair on the back of my neck. The combination of Duchak's cool yet intense soprano with Krause's direct, open mezzo is mesmerizing.
He may chase some crazy whim
That's the section of the song that speaks directly to my real-life experience, but it also gives me goosebumps because of a coincidence of timing: the day I first heard it, I was already haunted by a dream I'd had the night before, of wandering through the gray ruins and green, sunlit quads of an ancient college, accompanied by a much younger man - someone in his early twenties but far older than his years - old enough to understand how and why he wanted me very very badly. And the dream was laden with such yearning between us that when I woke up I was physically shivering from intensity of what I'd felt in response to my unknown would-be lover.
When I stare hard at the dream, I can recognize the palette my subconscious used: I have a terrible weakness for tall, thin and tortured darlings. If I am homesick for any one place, it is Hyde Park in Chicago. Much as I adore and cherish my real-life Beautiful Young Man, there are various levels at which we do not connect or satisfy each other. Scramble all of this together at the back of one's brain, seasoned with far too many readings of Gaudy Night and a dash of Terry Pratchett, and voila!, wildly spooky, bittersweet dreams about the other lives one can imagine having led.
So, that afternoon, I nearly jumped out of my chair when I heard Joan Krause singing:
The man says things he needs to say
And it goes on, the two stories overlapping:
Oh, it's thrilling, this duet. I've played the line "or he may...go...on" over and over again just for the sheer pleasure of its soaring. And it makes me wonder what else was written for the two musicals (both unproduced) from which the original songs were taken.
And it reminds me of that dream. I know that that young man does not exist - that what he is is the shape of my mind's mirror when I expose it to dream-light, which is blurry and over-exposed like the air of 70s afterschool specials (none of which I really remember - perhaps it's my memory that's superimposed that peculiar haze upon my visual recall of those images). That, in the end, the young man is me - that, for certain duets, only I can supply the counterpoint and the harmony I desire to the lines I've chosen.
Which does not in any way invalidate the other duets in my life. When 6:30 came around, I turned off the stereo and set to cooking dinner (beef with broccoli, and bok choy in cream of mushroom sauce). The BYM opened a bottle of cheap but excellent French table wine (Domaine de Fontsainte 1998). It hasn't always been easy, and even now some days it isn't easy at all - but even when it isn't simple (she says while glaring at the checkbook and the calendars and the clipboards and the inboxes), there can be ease found and given. Love is not all, it is not meat and drink...but in something as simple as sharing meat and drink there can be love, there may be ease.
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