The Sound of Music

It’s my favorite movie, you know?

**

I’ve been saying it’s my favorite movie since I was in high school. That was a good 20 years ago at this point. I’ve seen a lot of movies since then. Still, today, when people ask that ‘I-need-to-box-you-in-real-quick’ question, though, that answer always pops out of my mouth. For one, it’s instinct. It’s been the standard answer for a damn long time. As soon as I’ve said it, I begin an inward contemplation. Could that still be true? I ponder the main points of the movie. The plot line. The events.

**

When I was younger, I wanted to be a nun. Nuns have an outfit. Called a habit. An outfit called a habit. Nuns have regimented days. Highly regimented. I could benefit from that. I crave a blank canvas, so that I can paint my days as I see fit, but what that usually means is that I shit the days away, leaving the canvas mostly blank, or fill the canvas too full, so many lines and colors that one can’t see any of them clearly. Nuns seek to serve God, by praising him and doing work in his name, and by living humbly, and a bunch of etceteras that I don’t entirely understand.

A strange thing: I have moved many, many times in my life. As I’ve written before, apartment doors were revolving doors to me. I walked in and sat down for a minute, before moving on. If I tallied up the apartments that were within a one-block radius to a church, it would be astounding. It is as if I followed a trail of pebbles, leading me to doors that stood near the doors to heaven.

One of my apartments in Italy was just around the corner from a church, where, each morning, the nuns chanted. It was so so dark in there, and so very small. The nuns were protected behind a gate, off to the right side of the altar. I couldn’t even see them. I never attended service there. But I would come in, on my own time, when I needed to be there. And while I kneeled, in personal prayer, their voices swirled around and through me. I wasn’t there every day. But they were.

That gate that separated them from the pews represents the most important part of a nun’s life. Nuns live apart from other humans. Secluded. Away from the terror of humanity at large. THAT is the main reason I wanted to be a nun. Because I’m scared of people. And while that is a valid fear, hiding behind your fear is the real way to squash your humanity.

**

I’ve been working in a substance abuse treatment center for a little over a year. I did not apply for a job at a substance abuse treatment center. I applied for a desk job, after carrying Oliver around in my body became too much for me while waitressing. The desk job I applied for was on a hospital’s web site. When I got the call for an interview, they gave me an address for a clinic, off-site. A substance abuse treatment center. Oh, holy hell, I thought. I’ve had enough substance abuse in my life. None of it mine, per se, but plenty of it in my vicinity. That’s not where I fucking want to work, I said to myself. I went to the interview. It felt right. I took the job.

At the front desk, I wasn’t allowed to treat anyone there with anything other than kindness. I constantly wondered, and sometimes knew, how they had hurt their families. Their partners. Their children. (And maybe wanted to reprimand some a little?) But the front desk was designed for kindness. “Hi; how are you today?” I’d ask. It almost shocked me to find that every time I asked, all the judgement melted away. In that moment, I didn’t care how they had hurt their families. I cared about how hurt they were themselves. I cared that they knew that I cared. I was kindness; I cared.

But I took their sadness, their tragedies, home with me more often than I should. I weaved it into my own memories, I traveled back down roads I needn’t travel.

And so, I decided it was time to go.

**

Last week, Nic saw a job at a music school here. Front desk. The worldwide position most suited to me. I may be scared of people, but I LOVE people. I love to be kind.

I went for an interview. I walked in the doors, which are the doors to a house — an old house, that the owners bought from an older woman, who had filled it with cigarettes and cats. They bought it and then gutted it, and then used their hands to caress it and bring it back to life.

Its rooms are now tiny homes to instruments.

**

I’ve never played dominoes, and I’m really stubborn about weird things. I don’t want to ever play dominoes. I’m not attracted to them, though, I can objectively say, they are quite beautiful. Smooth white surfaces, penetrated by small black holes. Needless to say, I needn’t know how to play the game to know how dominoes work, when stacked up like little soldiers, all in a row. The ripple effect. Tap one lightly on the shoulder, and he, in turn, will tap a friend, and she will fall. And then so will they all.

Small changes can breed great effects.

**

So it seems now, that my feet should find themselves housed underneath a different desk. I won’t be hearing talk of parental rights termination anymore, the f-bomb, a vocabulary of angst. Look for me where you can hear the sound of peace. The sound of reverence. The sound of music.

 

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