I think, at some point in the past two years, I became romance-averse. Despite putting on an Oscar-worthy show for everyone in my life, perhaps including myself, I don’t think I’m really after anything meaningful with someone right now. Somewhere between real love, college graduation, my first job, paying bills, and dating what can only be described as knock-offs, I developed a defense mechanism- what some might call “a wall”. There are pros and cons to this subconscious strategy- on the one hand, I can’t get hurt if I’m never invested. No matter how bad a crash can look, if I never really cared in the first place, the real damage is really only in appearances. On the other hand, what if something or someone comes my way that I really could deeply care about, and I pass it by, in an attempt to maintain appearances? The worst thing about all of it is that day in and day out, I wait for something to shake me to my core, which can never happen if I maintain the stance of “nothing will work, so why try?”
Most people have heard the song called “I Can’t Help Falling In Love With You”. There is a version of it sung by Ingrid Michaelson, which I first heard when I saw the trailer for the movie Like Crazy. (Side note: Do not watch Like Crazy if you are emotionally unstable, in love with someone, recovering from a breakup, or in general if you have feelings. There will be tears, and snot, and roommates who think someone died when you come out of your room. Yes, I speak from experience.) For some reason, the lyrics seem much more poignant when sung slower and in Ingrid’s raspy, angsty tone. The line in that song that made me think about all of this was when she says, “some things were meant to be…” Upon immediate reaction, it seems like a total cliché. When people say meeting someone they love was meant to be, one can only be skeptical based on the amount of bullshit in that statement, right? But then I stopped to think about what in my life I might refer to as “meant to be”.
When I was 5 years old, my parents asked me if I wanted to pick a musical instrument to learn, as was tradition in my family. I came from a family of professional and semi-pro musicians, so it wasn’t really an option to say no, mind you. I chose the violin, and began taking private lessons in the small town of Wyoming, Ohio. Yes, you read that correctly. I can’t imagine what my parents must have endured those first few years, while I scratched out Suzuki Method etudes, scales, and “Mary Had a Little Lamb” on repeat- I’m sure that at one point or another, they figured I was trying to get back at them for forcing me to go to lessons on Saturday morning, every. Damn. Week. However, I stuck with it, and like a newborn deer finding its walking legs, I developed my ear and became a pretty decent musician. For a very long time, it was a chore for me, even though I knew I had become pretty good at it. I played all through grade school, suffered in middle school orchestras as I sat side by side with people who had started years after me, and then finally found myself in an advanced orchestra in high school. Even then, when I knew I was playing with other very talented musicians, I saw Evergreen Philharmonic as a social gathering, rather than a path to my future life. It was high school, so naturally my thoughts were usually preoccupied with boys, sports, boys, and, well, probably boys. I dated Tims and Tylers and Brads, and didn’t stop to think that the most consistent relationship in my life was the one I had with music. It was the cornerstone for my whole life. My calendar was governed by when I had rehearsal, how I was getting to concerts, who I would room with on our Europe tour, and whether or not we had enough time to get through the whole Tchaikovsky Piano Concerto in one rehearsal. I didn’t realize it then, but I was so incredibly blessed. Music brought me to University of Colorado, where I was majoring in viola performance. I met some incredible people, several of whom I stay in contact with to this day. When I transferred to Washington State University, I was not a happy camper. I had parents who felt I had conned them into letting me go to an out of state school based on the fact that they had an amazing music program (and the resident violist at the school had been stand-partners with my grandfather once upon a time in San Francisco), friends I was leaving behind, and a cloudy future at a new school. However, the people I met there shaped who I became ultimately, and are the framework for my life here in Seattle. Choosing music and then changing my plan may have not been what I had expected, but it got me here, and to the people I love. So, in an act of embracing the cliché, couldn’t one argue that despite it being a choice my parents made for me almost 20 years ago, music in my life was meant to be?
Maybe I do believe in romanticized ideas of a path before us that we discover day by day, through each and every small choice we make. I don’t expect to wake up tomorrow and have a clear image of what my life will look like. But perhaps by rededicating myself to something I care so deeply about, everything else might fall back into place as it is meant to be.