Everyone you meet has a part to play in your story. And while some may take a chapter, others a paragraph, and most will be no more than scribbled notes in the margins, someday, you’ll meet someone who will become so integral to your life, you’ll put their name in the title.
There are times I feel like I am not wholly here. Like I am looking in on my life through a dusty old lens. I can make out the outlines of the things and the people I love, but for the most part, it is all a shadowy blur.
[Yuja Wang] played [the solo piano part to Messiaen’s Turangalîla-Symphonie] from a score, and on the night I attended did her own page turning, which lent a certain suspense to the proceedings. The pages flew at a rate of about one every thirty seconds… . Later, Yuja told me that she had put adhesive on the pages to insure that they would stay in place.
Janet Malcolm, “Performance Artist”, printed in the 5.9.16 issue of The New Yorker (p 57)
ok i find this deeply amusing b/c i can now recount the Full Saga of Yuja Wang’s Page Turning Adventures with Turangalîla at the NY Phil
i saw her perform on Thursday. she had a page turner, who was seated unfortunately far away from her and had to lunge forward to grab and flip the pages. unfortunate, since there are so goddamn many, and also unfortunate b/c that score did not want to stay flat and there was hella breeze in that hall. so there were a couple times where the poor turner had just sat down and then had to leap up again to prevent catastrophe. there was also one time where they were struggling to flip one, and Yuja held out a fermata just a liiiiiitle longer than i was expecting and it was not quite clear whether that was an artistic decision or her just desperately trying to cover for not being able to see the next measure. on the whole, it was a p distracting affair
Janet Malcolm clearly saw the Friday night performance. no page turner, adhesive on the pages, most of the distractions gone, but now with the added complication of trying to figure out where to flip the darn things while also playing approximately 500,000 notes per second
When you live in the dark for so long, you begin to love it. And it loves you back, and isn’t that the point? You think, the face turns to the shadows, and just as well. It accepts, it heals, it allows.
But it also devours.
Starting over needn’t mean something so drastic as relocating or switching careers. It can be as simple as resolving to reject harmful energies, abandon unhealthy habits, or reevaluate your life vision. It is simply drawing a clear, deep line in the sand between you and what no longer serves you.
Imagine Bucky being protective of the little girls in the Black Widow program because deep down, they remind him of his younger siblings.
Yelena is taller than the rest, with blonde curls that are always coming out of her otherwise severe bun. Irena is dark and solemn, with delicate hands; Petra still laughs, a bell sound that is bigger than she is. Natalia is a little fox: red, light and nimble, clever.
Collectively, they remind him of a flock of birds. They follow him everywhere, chattering. There are allowances even here, it would seem; even the Red Room is powerless in the face of talkative small girls. Or perhaps no one feels like getting in the way of the Soldier.
Some days he finds that he doesn’t remember their names, but he remembers the other things, the details. How their hair is braided, who sings under their breath when they walk between buildings, which of them is afraid of the dark.
Children are perhaps an anachronism in his life, fragmented as it is. It is disorienting to lay at night and see flashes behind his closed eyes: machine gun fire overlaid with high pitched laughing, dead men in ditches juxtaposed with memories of tending a scraped knee, white silk basting together calico and muslin, black surgical thread in skin.
A guard smacks Petra when she drops her lunch tray, the Soldier crushes his windpipe. Yelena catches a cold, the Soldier shows her how to hold her face over a bowl of warm water. Natalia asks him what his name is. He doesn’t know, not anymore, so he pats her hair instead.
There are pieces missing in his life, the Soldier knows. But these birds, with their chattering, with their bright eyes – they are familiar somehow, familiar and therefore precious, and he will keep them safe.
The sudden feeling of completion overwhelms him. It’s as though his spirit has been fragmented his whole life, without his ever really having known it, and now suddenly, with every part of her surrounding every part of him, his soul has been re-knit, restored, returned to him with all its once-gaping holes lovingly mended.
He doesn’t try to hide it because he knows she’ll understand- and she does. She lies beneath him, cradling his head in her hands, and when she sees the tears sparkling in his eyes, she draws his face down to hers. She kisses his lips, tenderly, kisses each of his eyes in turn, and brings his forehead to rest against her own.
He tries to speak, but finds that he can’t… and again, she understands. She holds her fingers to his lips, stilling him. "I know,“ she whispers. "I feel it, too.”
He kisses her, long and slow, and begins to move within her.
The first time they’re together after he’s returned to her, he cries.
She’s promised him, repeatedly, that this is okay, that he’s not going to hurt her, not going to hurt the baby, but still, his movements are timid, cautious. The sight of her doubled over in pain in her living room is much too fresh in his memory.
He lies curled behind her, framing her small body with his, spooned against her, in the position they’d loved to sleep in, before, but had never used for lovemaking. But now, with their child between them, she says it’s the best option. And when he at last slips into her, he’s glad she can’t see his face, can’t see the tears streaming down his cheeks as he finally feels, for the first time, that he is home.
She knows, though. She always knows. She arches her back against him, twisting her head over her shoulder to capture his mouth with her own. She brushes his tears away with her thumb, stroking his cheek. He runs his hand along her body, down her shoulder, over the ridges of her ribcage, around her waist, and across her round belly.
There’s a twitch under his fingers, a sudden ripple in her skin, and he jerks his hand away in surprise. She chuckles and takes his fingers in her own, placing them back on her belly and holding them there. He feels their child moving against his hand and thinks, We did that. Just by doing what we’re doing right now. And he wonders- the way he’d felt, that first time, had he known, somehow?
She reaches behind herself and clutches at his body, impatient, and after that it’s difficult to think at all anymore.
Their first time after they’ve escaped and driven off together, he cries.
He’d believed, for months, that this would never, ever happen again, that it was impossible. And until barely a day ago, he’d believed that he was going to die without ever knowing this bliss again. The first long, slow slide into her welcoming warmth seems to wake something deep within him, seems to tear off the suffocating shroud that his prolonged solitude has wrapped him in.
He’s dismayed to find that it hurts her. He wants to stop, but she refuses. "It’s not that unusual,“ she says. "Many women experience some pain, the first time after… after…..” She closes her eyes, holding her own tears in check. He wishes she wouldn’t, wishes she would just let go, but he knows that she’s never found it easy to cry around anyone, not even him… and he’s been gone for so long.
So instead, he allows himself to cry, and in soothing his pain, she forgets her own. For now.
The first time he’s with her in the new house, he cries.
He remembers their first time together, in his bed in his Arlington apartment, neither of them concerned with having to go anywhere at all except to work the next morning, after which they could return, together, and make love again. Repeat ad nauseam.
On the road, on the run, the constant question of “Where next?” had stolen all possibility of real rest from them. They had settled down each night wondering whether tomorrow would be the day they would be caught, the day the running would finally come to an end for them, the day that all hope of escape would be dashed forever. Lovemaking had been tense, anxious, each constantly keeping an ear out, unable to truly lose themselves in one another.
This house represents an end to all of that… but it doesn’t truly sink in for him until he’s lying on top of her in their new bed, upstairs in their new house. He will make love to her here tonight, they will go to sleep, and tomorrow, they will wake up together. Tomorrow night, they’ll do the same thing… and the night after that, and the night after that, and on and on. He’s never before in his life found the idea of an unchanging routine to be quite so beautiful.
“Only good times from here on,” he tells her, and in the moonlight shining through their bedroom window, she looks as though she would very much like to believe him.
The first time they make love after reconciling, he cries.
He had done everything she had asked of him… eventually. He had gotten himself out of the house. He had made the psychiatric appointments (and eventually, he’d even started going to them). He had filled the prescriptions, had taken the pills, had gotten active again, had developed a routine. They had returned to the FBI, and he had thrown himself into his work with just as much passion as before- but with far fewer of the foolish risks he’d been given to taking in his youth.
But without her, it had been like preparing a gourmet meal and placing it on an empty table, performing a concerto to a vacant opera house, painting a portrait and hanging it facing the wall. He knows what she would say if she could hear his thoughts: she would remind him, yet again, that he has to do these things for himself, that doing them just for her would be unhealthy, would be missing the point.
And he has done them for himself. But what use is it all, without her to share it with? His life, without her in it, is a “how” without a “why.” He knows now that she cannot be solely responsible for mending the tears in his soul- he must see to many of them on his own- but sharing it with her is what makes the pain of mending worthwhile.
They’re not as young as they once were. Their bodies have changed, skin loosening where it was once firm, lean frames hardened and weathered by rough use… but she is more beautiful to him than she has ever been before, a treasure restored to him after a long, painful absence.
She wraps her legs around him, and he is home. The tears are flowing freely down his cheeks, but he doesn’t care, because he knows she understands. She always understands.
She takes his head gently in her hands and presses her forehead to his. "I know,“ she says. "I feel it, too.”
Am I in love? – yes, since I am waiting. The other one never waits. Sometimes I want to play the part of the one who doesn’t wait; I try to busy myself elsewhere, to arrive late; but I always lose at this game. Whatever I do, I find myself there, with nothing to do, punctual, even ahead of time. The lover’s fatal identity is precisely this: I am the one who waits.