Your back curves like a question mark as you sit on the bench resting your chin on the top of the cello. You’re already asking, maybe five minutes into the practice, how much longer you will have to play. Of course, there is no answer to this question that won’t bring a grown or a grumble. And then we hear a series of proposals and very good reasons why the practice should be so much shorter, or perhaps stopped altogether. A lawyer could never put together a better case and any jury would surely agree with you. You know, however, that it will not make a difference, and predictably it does not, but still you try, as if this is some form of warm-up ritual.
The bargaining and pleading finally wind down, like a toy running low on batteries, and with one final demonstrative exhale there is silence and you are still. Your eyes soften; your focus, it seems, is on some distant point, beyond the window in front of you and past the yard outside. Soon you find a place that only you know how to locate. Your head rises, your chin pointing to music on the stand in front of you, and your back extends as straight as the neck of the cello. The curve of the cello rises up to fill the space under your arm, an instrument of great elegance held magnificently by a beautiful young woman.
It doesn’t seem possible that anyone could decipher the hundreds of tiny notes on the page, all the sharps and flats and the multitude of notations. Your focus, though, is laser sharp, your eyes are intense, you are locked in. Without fear or hesitation, you plunge into the piece and let it draw you in. You are the cello and the cello is you. Your fingers fly up and down the finger board pressing with precision, locking on with such strength, and then shifting again faster than the eye can follow. Your bow sweeps across the strings, cuts against the strings, and sometimes seems to linger on a string, traveling over a musical landscape too beautiful to describe, leaving poetry in the air.
That is what I see when I see you play the cello. I see a young woman who is playful and funny, very funny, and at times very serious and solemn, while other times you are just a little girl trying to get out of practice. I see a girl who is very smart, determined, and so strong, so sensitive, so talented. I see a complex girl with great depths of maturity, someone who takes full responsibility for all her school work, her babysitting, her tutoring responsibilities at school and more.
That is what I see when I see you play the cello. I see a beautiful young woman who is truly amazing. And I wonder, when did all this happen, little Rachie, when did all this happen?
Happy birthday, Love Dad.