In my teens (particularly in high school), I never would have gone to something like this by myself. I would have wanted to be with my family or with a group of friends. Not because I feared crowds or for my general safety in public, but rather because I would have wanted to look like I belonged, somehow. Like I was the kind of successful person who had back up, who had peeps, who had voluntary companions.
In my twenties, I’ve discarded this particular security blanket. I have studying abroad to thank for that, and a certain icy roommate who seemed to either think that I was a swamp monster or entirely nonexistent. That sort of treatment, rather than crushing my spirit–cue Oprah monologue–forced me to be independent, self-confident, and to chuckle to myself at the horrendous awkwardness of the situation.
An example of my claimed immense self-growth: a few evenings ago I went to a concert by myself. I drove to Minneapolis (though I’ve always liked driving); ran up on a curb while attempting to park on a smart, residential street; and walked along Lake Harriet until I reached the band shell where the Minnesota Orchestra Musicians would be performing.
I then stood for an hour and a half at the back of the band shell’s lawn listening and periodically patting the head of my standing neighbor’s small black dog. I enjoyed the music, and the general splendor of being near a great mass of water and seeing the occasional bright-sailed sailboat race across it.
The only discomfort involved in the outing–aside from when I jumped the curb with witnesses–was that when it comes to classical music, I hardly know what I’m hearing. There a movement has ended, there the sound is building … that’s about the extent of my knowledge. I greatly admired the young woman near me who had her eyes closed the entire time and was softly swaying her body as if in a great, music-induced trance. I would have done the same, hoping for epiphany, but bad things tend to happen when I close my eyes.
Truthfully, until I arrived at Lake Harriet, I didn’t know exactly what I was getting myself into. I knew it was a Minnesota Orchestra concert, and that it was free. But I didn’t realize that these were the Minnesota Orchestra musicians who have been locked out of the Minnesota Orchestral Association since October 2012, following a labor dispute.
Good for them for continuing to perform, despite the lack of steady salary. Good for them for refusing to let their orchestra become anything less than the world-class group it’s always been.
After the concert was over, I pushed my way to the front of the band shell where buttons and t-shirts were being sold. I grinned hugely as I bought my button and pinned it on, so much so that the woman at the table asked if I was a musician myself. No, ma’am. It just felt good to support a cause again. Not good as in, my word, I’m such a Good Samaritan, but good as in, my word, even though I’m by myself, I’m part of this large group of happy people who love music and come to listen to it and buy buttons to support it. What was left of my trembling high school self shrank three sizes that day.
If you’d like to learn more about the Minnesota Orchestra Musicians, their cause, and their upcoming concerts, here‘s the link to their website. The Star Tribune write-up of the Lake Harriet concert and the current lockout situation can be found here.