Wednesday, November 18, 2009

In the beginning...

I have always been fond of looking through windows. Store windows, people's windows, car windows. This is not to say that I enjoy looking out of windows, which would be a view of the world from my perspective, but rather through windows belonging to other people, the objects behind the windows untouchable, untangible, colored by stream of sunlight or dusky shadows.

Living in New york it was a hobby to peer into the apartment windows, from the distance of the street or across the street from my apartment into the neighboring buildings. This may seem like voyeurism, but the fact is, I never once remember seeing a person in all those years of looking through windows. That is not to say that no one was home; I just do not think I would have noticed. I was more preoccupied with the setting;with whatever scenario was created in my mind by viewing their things. The Christmas tree, the molding, the red walls, the antiques, the modern art, just- right floor covering, leather seats, big screen tv, computer armoir from ABC carpet that I wished I could have bought, but instead ordered the one from Walmart online.

How did they choose that paint? How did they afford that piece of art? What do they do? How did they get that huge apartment? Do they have mice? Of course not! The doorman would help them if they did. Do they walk to Columbus Avenue with 30 pounds of laundry on their back. No. They send it out or what's that I see? A washer and dryer in the apartment? No I can not see clearly, but I suppose they must. Must be a doctor, must be a lawyer, must be anything, anyone, but an opera singer. An opera singer who packed her music school dreams along with her music school sweetheart and moved to the big city. Destined to sing auditions and jobs, and more jobs and oooppps, no jobs, oh phew, got that job, nope have to work at Macy's for a while.

Thank God, he got that job. Oh not that job? Better wait tables for a while.

All the while wanting what was in the store window, his car window, their apartment window.

Two kids and 17 years later, we packed our dreams and our car and moved to Boston. I immediately took to driving in my car and looking through people's house windows, including my own when I pull in the driveway, just to see if it looked better from the outside than it did from the inside. If it looked like I too, had done something right.

Looking through the windows has also been, for me, a way of trying on someone's life. Imagining their path to their things. But my recent experiences have led me to ponder the ways in which we are all moving down a path away from our things, away from our people, away from the lives that we think we have built. Everyday is a step away.

Why the sudden burst of philosophical thought? How does a budding New York Diva, turn suburban philosopher?? Well, now that I have traded travel for the more tame life of teaching and singing concerts and church jobs to offer more to my family, I make one quarter of my income singing-you guessed it-funerals.
All a person has to do to kick the habit of looking through windows, is buy a front row ticket to reality that is spending several days a week at funerals. This is not a morbid or depressing thing. Believe it or not , it is quite the contrary. Sad? Most of the time, yes. Thought provoking? All the time, yes. Would you believe inspiring?
Now it may be hard to believe that someone who spent her young life living for art would be inspired in middle age by death, but it is not nearly that simple. Even after years in one of the best conservatories in the country followed by singing amazing music with fantastic colleagues, I have never felt that my voice was put to better use than it is now. Every time I enter the church and prepare to sing one of these jobs, I come closer to understanding the mystery and purpose of talent. The gift that we are to each other, the invaluable, intangible nature of a life well lived and it's impact on every creature, everywhere. I am humbled by the work because there is so much to learn as I bring the only beauty left on the worst day of a strangers life. Once again, I am looking through the window, but this time I see myself moving around inside. From my birds eye view, these are my notes from the loft:

1 comment:

  1. Lisa, what a wonderful post. I shall look forward to reading them all, one at a time. Indeed, one of the most amazing experiences I ever had was performing for a blind woman in a rehab hospital; after I was done, she sang "Amazing Grace" to us - we all about lost it when she sang "'twas blind, but now I see" with this radiant expression on her face. We found out that she passed away about an hour after we left - I treasure that memory - almost like a "pre-funeral".
    Great to be in touch again, I look forward to reading your blog.
    James Bergin