February 20, 2006

32: Baroque candlelight

Somehow I ended up in Jack’s group for dinner, sitting next to him, and by the end of the meal, after trading a few small sharpish sort of comments and a lot of laughter, we were friends.

Four of us decided on a whim to go to a rather expensive Baroque candlelight concert at Exeter College Chapel. The chapel dates from the 1300’s—small and simple on the outside, with a traditional steeple at one end. Inside, there are icons painted around the bottom of the walls with what looks like real gold. From about eight feet up the walls are gorgeous stained glass, images of biblical stories clear to the top. We sat listening to the cello and harpsichord, the readings from Shakespeare (“Let me not to the marriage of true minds admit impediments…”) and Queen Elizabeth (“I have the heart and stomach of a king…”), trying to sort out which stories were which in the glass.

We got ice cream and stood on the bridge over the Isis, and I thought I might pass out from exhaustion.

As we walked back, I said to Jack (the others had not been part of our conversation for a while), “I’m not sure exactly what I said to you this morning, and I’m even less sure about what you heard.” He laughed a little. I was determined to say my piece, “I just want to make sure I didn’t communicate that I’m not interested, because I am.”

“I appreciate that,” he said. And quietly, “No, I just heard you say that, you know, you were feeling emotional and needed some space.”


“You know, it’s like I said,” he continued, “This other thing just started, and I didn’t expect to meet someone—especially someone I had so much in common with. I’m sure you weren’t expecting to meet anyone either.”

“No, I wasn’t,” I lied through my teeth. What’s a girl to do?

Back in the Wycliffe lobby, I practically whispered, “So then, I’m like, are we just hanging out or what? And I know I don’t need an answer to that question now.”

But Jack answered me anyway. “Yeah, we should view it that way, and not feel like we need to sit together in lectures all the time or spend all our time together. You know, I just don’t know what God’s going to do with this.”

And I thought yes, in some sense that’s true, but in some way doesn’t it just come down to what Jack wants?

We sat in the common room with Simon and laughed until about midnight, when I headed upstairs. I felt oddly light and clear knowing that, officially, there was nothing going on. Like somehow I could just relax and enjoy whatever it was we had, without putting expectations on it.


Anonymous Miriam said...

"And I thought yes, in some sense that’s true, but in some way doesn’t it just come down to what Jack wants? " I just hate that. Why do women wait? Why do we tell ourselves, "Well I know what G-d wants, and I know what I want. I/we want this relationship, so get on board buster and stop jerking me around." aaarrgggh. Why be patient? Does it really pay?

Maybe it comes down to that pursuer-distancer dance (all right what do you expect from a shrink). May be in situations like those, women need to say "I'm interested. I'm really interested. I'll be over there going on with my life while you wait for that Divine-o-gram."

Freud asks, "What do women really want?" [Writer David Rakoff in a brilliant essay called Christmas Freud, modifies it to "What do women really want, for Christmas?" A definate must read, but I digress.] I think what women want, in their heart of hearts is beautifully expressed by the German poet Friedrich Rückert (1788-1866): Er ist gekommen in Strum und Regen. A loose translation goes:

He came in storm and rain,
my anxious heart beat against his.
how could I have known, that his path
itself should be my way?

He came in storm and rain,
he boldly seized my heart.
Did he seize mine? Did I seize his?
Both came together.

He came in storm and rain,
Now has come the blessing of spring.
My love travels abroad, I watch with cheer,
for he remains mine, on any road.

In the German it is moving and very powerful. I LOVE the rendition by Anne Sophie von Otter. Ach du lieber! Amazing

2/20/2006 01:48:00 PM  
Anonymous mrne said...

This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.

2/21/2006 10:15:00 PM  
Blogger Lori said...

Love, love love these thoughts -- and poems. Thank you!


2/22/2006 10:39:00 AM  
Anonymous Miriam said...

More on what do women really want? [Feeling a bit of a blog hog here with the comments].

What also comes to mind is another German poem, the music is of uncertain origin but traditionally ascribed to JS Bach (BWV 508) because it is found in the Anna Magdalena Notebooks: Bist Du Bei Mir. Again quite beautiful in song. I particularly like the Marilyn Horne performance.

Bist du bei mir, means when you are with me, or sometimes translated "When Thou Art Near." I realized one day recently it can also be a question (in German) Bist du bei mir? Are you with me? The flip side, the scary, worrisome side of love--both on the same coin. Does he really like/love me, if so my life will be so complete. Anyway here it is, it has the mixture of love and death we often find in beloved nursery rhymes: It seems to be popular as both a lullaby and a wedding tune (you know, kind of until death do us part).

If you are with me, then I will go with joy
to my death and to my rest.
Ah, how satisfying will my end be,
for your dear (loving) hands will shut
my faithful eyes!

2/22/2006 10:40:00 AM  

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