I’ve been lucky enough to live in several different countries around the world, which has afforded me the opportunity to do some truly wonderful things. I’ve been to operas at La Fenice in Venice, I was in Jerusalem one year for Passover, I’ve watched awestruck as rainbow-clad women performed the Nine Drum Dance. I’ve seen the Pope so many times we’re practically on a first-name basis.
So when I gave up my jet-setting lifestyle to settle down in a tiny Alabama town, it became harder than I was prepared for to get my cultural fix. Fortunately, our town has several businesses who get together annually to endow a series of performances at the local high school auditorium.
Years ago I took a good friend kayaking on Lake Wedowee, only she wasn’t sure she could paddle solo at her advanced age so she was content to sit on the front of my kayak while I very slowly made my way around the lake. She commented cheerfully that she had always wanted to go for a gondola ride on the Grand Lagoon overlooking the Adriatic, but that a kayak ride on Lake Wedowee would just have to do. At the time I admired her attitude and the ability to see the good that was right in front her.
And I’m really trying to keep that in mind. Our season tickets to this year’s performances included headline act Vince Gill, which replaced the Garfunkel-sans-Simon concert that was cancelled due to a pigeon infestation in the ceiling tiles of the auditorium. We will also get to see the touring company of a small Russian ballet company interpreting selections from Romeo and Juliet, a Chinese-take on Riverdance, and a concert featuring major works of Brahms.
The first performance we attended was the Brahms. I got dressed up in my finest, dropped our lovelies off at the babysitter’s, and met my husband/date for a pre-concert evening of fine dining at Ruby Tuesday. I had the buffalo shrimp.
We made our way to the high school parking lot, opting to forgo the valet parking since I’m not sure it was actually a valet, it may have just been a car thief who wore a borrowed dinner jacket. We presented our tickets to some junior members of the student council and were directed to our seats by the assistant football coach. The lights dimmed, the patrons settled their whispered conversations, and the curtains rose.
And there were the first swirling notes of the Opole Philharmonic of Poland.
And it was good. It wasn’t breathtaking, or awe-inspiring, and it certainly didn’t bring the crowd to its feet, mostly because it’s really hard to give a standing ovation in bleachers. But when it’s all you’ve got available, peruse the concert program that was Xeroxed on the office copier and hum along to the music to yourself.
It’s easy to look down your nose at the concert or the intermission refreshments provided by Girl Scout troop 1283. And admittedly not many performances at the Met begin with the Pledge of Allegiance. But to these performers, this will always be the time of their lives when they travelled with the philharmonic and held the prestigious position of first chair violinist, professionally, no less.
But at the end of the day, it was just a group of musicians out of Poland who probably all had day jobs as hospital orderlies when they weren’t touring. And it made me a little sad for the opportunities I took for granted while living abroad.
Then something amazing happened to me last week. Someone out there on the Internet accidentally Googled something or other that took them to my website and this wonderful stranger proceeded to translate it. Into Hrvatski. I had to search online just to find out which indigenous peoples even speak Hrvatski. They live in Croatia, apparently. I’m picturing Peggy from the Capital One commercials.
All of a sudden, literally overnight, I went from being a small-town writer blogging to myself and my five subscribers to being a writer with an international following. Like the third chair cellist-by-day, janitor-by-night, I’m no longer a teacher who writes a little on the side. I’m a world-renowned blogger. And when the money catches up with the fame, I fully intend to purchase a waterfront resort home on Lake Wedowee.