Vacation Note:
Autumn Break
Fall 2018

It hardly needs saying that, although I’m going to take a break from posting here, I’m not going anywhere. I’m going to concentrate on the second round of the writing project, which is already proving to be much more difficult than the first. “That’s as it should be” sounds glib; “That’s how it had to be” is more like it. The first round produced a very readable piece of journalism, not without interest but no more demanding or memorable than a magazine article read to pass the time. You can imagine that it took awhile for this realization to stop stinging. As a memoir, it was somewhat uncertain, and I eventually learned from it that I did not want to write a memoir. And then what happened got in the way of explaining why I think the things I do.

But here’s something that happened. I don’t remember why I remembered it out of the blue the other day, but it has kept me laughing ever since.

I was somewhere between ten and twelve, I think. My friend Joey’s piano teacher had an annual recital for her pupils at a place in the City. This turned out to be what we now call Weill Recital Hall. Joey played his piece, and then we fooled around. We ran up and down the corridors, and when we got tired of that we started opening doors. There was nothing interesting behind any of these doors until we got to the last one. When we opened it, a blast of sound such as we had never heard in our lives, coming from somewhere far away down in a hole, threatened both to knock us flat where we stood and to suck us into the abyss. Of course we figured out that this was Carnegie Hall, in the middle of a concert, with a packed audience, and that we shouldn’t be there, but our bodies were so shocked by the sensation that we couldn’t move. We just stood there, transfixed, momentarily unworried about getting in trouble. If you’ve ever had a seat in the upper balconies of Carnegie Hall, you won’t have any trouble imagining our sudden vertigo. But the sound was just as disconcerting. We had opened the door on the climax of some grandiose romantic symphony, and although it was unbelievably loud, it was totally clear and not at all deafening. The audience, perfectly still and silent, may have thought it celestial, but when I remember it I think of opening the lid on Dante’s Inferno. After all, we had transgressed, and would go on transgressing until we closed that door!

The second time I saw Carnegie Hall, I was just a few years older, but already the most callow of adolescents. This time, I was a member of the audience myself, and I was sitting not in the balconies but in the front row of a center box. I can’t recall for certain — this is why I’m no good at memoir — but I expect I was too busy imagining myself as a royal personage to be reminded of my first encounter.

I’m not setting a date for return. Thanks for reading!