Vacations supposedly help clear away all the busy-ness and worries in which we’ve let ourselves become entangled. While retirement may seem like a permanent vacation to those who haven’t retired yet, I was caught up in any number of projects and tasks before we left for Spain and France . On our first full day back yesterday, I felt that more than any other vacation that this trip took me far away from myself. There were traces of Laura in Spain, but I never traveled to Spain with Laura. There were, however, strong memories of traveling to Madrid, Barcelona and Paris with Mary Beryl, the mother of my three older children. And regrets. There was also the strong sense that this was Anne Mei’s last childhood vacation trip with me. I really felt my age on this trip, most of all when trying to keep up with her in Segovia as she went up and over the hill between the Alcazar and Plaza Mayor on a sunny day with the temperature in the high-90s. Then there were the 90 steps up from the train platform to the street at the Abbesses Metro stop for Sacre Coeur in Paris. Both times I felt as though my lungs were going to explode. On our next trip Anne Mei will play more of the adult role.
Today marks another transition for Anne Mei. Her last lesson with her viola/violin teacher Sarah Sutton before she goes off to Syracuse. Anne Mei intends to bring her viola to college and to get involved in one of the many musical groups there, but she won’t be taking lessons. She started violin lessons in pre-kindergarten with Branislav Svitek, whose Middle-European methods emphasized form and structure. After about two years Laura found her next teacher Louise McClure with whom Anne Mei studied until 9th grade. Louise taught Anne Mei how to make music not just play the notes. She introduced Anne Mei to the viola, and her husband Ted taught her some beautiful music on the cello. After Laura’s death and with the restiveness of adolescence, Anne Mei needed a change. That’s when she started with Sarah Sutton on both viola and violin. Sarah taught Anne Mei how to look at what she needs to do in detail and how to do it in order to play music that fills the heart with joy.
My dream is that Anne Mei will continue to play viola and violin throughout her life for the joy of it. My fantasy is that she’ll go back to the cello because she can make it sing.