Saturday, October 19, 2013

Keeping My Promise


In “The Blogs That Never Were” posting, I made an offer to publish any pieces written using one of the titles. Lisa Allen, music intern at The SF School, dedicated Orff teacher, accomplished flautist and as you will see, evocative writer, took me up on it. So here it is. I particularly like the scene at the bus station, a reminder of how people can come together in times of public inconvenience. Enjoy!

The Dog in the Wind— Lisa Allen


Like a dog with its head out the car window I enthusiastically set off to the San Francisco Orff Internship with no BART services.  And as in the simple children's story, The Carrot Seed where the adults say, "It won't come up", family members said, "Stay home.  We think you're crazy to get out there today.  It's going to be a mess."  And like a kid playing in a symphony orchestra for the very first time I thought if nothing else, it would be an interesting use of the day to be out there in the center of the struggling hordes mobbing across the bay above ground.  After all, this is a semester where as of yet, nothing suffers in my absence.  Classes won't be waiting outside of locked doors, the school won't be sitting there in the gym waiting for a rehearsal without a conductor, if I'm late it will hardly be noticed. 

So off I went, with the faith of the family dog smelling the sea air on the drive to the beach, eyes half shut against the wind, hairy ears flapping in the breeze, my mother in the driver's seat generously driving me to the transbay bus, line F.  Arriving in plenty of time for the very first stop, my friend, Celia and I had our choice of seats from which to watch the day begin to unfold.  Admittedly, the progress was almost infinitely slower than in the Bart train.  But we had an early start.  And guess what!  This was my first journey above ground to see the new bay bridge headed west!  As I looked around at my fellow passengers I felt a renewed gratitude for my lifelong Berkeley roots.  I love this place!

Upon arriving in SF we were greeted by many, many muni helpers ready to guide us to the needed connecting bus.  And with my ears flopping in the wind I was excited to be in the downtown of a big city, again, reminded of my exciting days living in Paris and New York.  Admittedly the ensuing bus ride was quite long.  But when we arrived at school, serendipitously we had only missed fifteen minutes of class time!  I was in plenty of time to work with Sofia on presenting the speech piece assignment to the seventh graders, as I had hoped.  It was one of those days when there was a beautiful balance of challenge, leisure and connection.  The high point was one of Sofia's most heart-felt talks to the interns over lunchtime.  Her generous spirit runs deep underneath tender guidance toward those under her mentorship.

Then after a spirited performance of Andean flute and drum music from the sixth graders I even had a chance to collaborate with Andrea, finishing out our bird unit with Jack and the Beanstalk with the goose who laid the golden egg actually turning out to be a swan!  (Oh, I forgot the spoiler alert.  Sorry!)

Then out into the wind, again, finding a way back across the bay.  I took what I thought would be the express 9 bus, but it still took an hour to get back to the SF Bus terminal to try to find the Berkeley bus.  And then there it was...  The line for the F bus.  An absolute mob.  By my estimation, it would be midnight before getting home and I hadn't even bothered to use the bathroom before getting there.  And then there was an extremely chatty person next to me in line.  No, I take that back.  Everyone around me was extremely chatty.  Wait a minute, everyone was downright friendly, and calm and reasonable, a general sense that we couldn't do anything about it, so why get too grumpy?  As a matter of fact, the man behind me said, "Well, I guess you and I will be spending the evening together!"

And before we knew it, we were all boarding the bus.  And pretty soon I realized that those in charge knew this was a very stressful situation for a very large crowd.  And so everyone was being very kind and considerate to make sure we had a chance at remaining calm through the ordeal.

We made it across the bay in, well, I won't try to explain how long.  When I got back to downtown Berkeley and found it would be another 30 minutes before the bus would arrive I decided it was the perfect opportunity for a brisk walk up the hill.  And as I climbed the steepest part up Euclid Avenue toward Cedar I thought to myself, "Wow, this walk is far shorter than I remember!"

When I got into the house my mother asked, "Well, was it worth it?"  And like a spaniel turning her back on the wind, circling onto her soft old cushion in her favorite spot, I said, "I wouldn't have missed it for the world."

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