10 September 2007


So in the evening of the very same day when I first heard her voice, I met my singer neighbor! Actually, to be precise, that's not true, since it was well past midnight.

I arrived home from the office rather late Sunday night, not because I was working, but because it's more pleasant to work in my comfortable, well-furnished and air-conditioned office than in my muggy, largely furniture-less house filled with cardboard boxes and strewn with the crumpled newspaper that until very recently wrapped my dishes. When I got to my front door, there was a note saying "Greg(?) - Party in Apt 8. Drop by! D—" The question mark after my name indicated that we had only met once in the laundry room, and she wasn't sure of my name.

Sure enough, there was a party downstairs from me, with D— and her friends in the midst of a spirited game of Jenga. D— is an elementary school art teacher. Also there was the neighbor from apartment 2, who works at the wonderfully-named Plain Dealer. We all drank beer.

I stepped outside to do a bad thing. A thing I only do socially, I swear!. And as soon as I stepped outside, a very small woman with her very big boyfriend staggered their way up the walkway. She was barefoot, while he held her shoes. (And they were beautiful shoes—kitten heels in a jewel-tone blue and green brocade.) It became clear in out earliest exchange that she was the singer whom I had first heard about, then heard. She complained about her music theory placement. She explained her fach. She encouraged me to come up an accompany her on the piano sometime. She was very drunk.

She asked for a cigarette. I looked quizzical, her boyfriend frowned. "I haven't touched one of these things in a month! Today was my audition! I can celebrate now!" I had heard her, that morning, doing final preparations for the auditions to cast all the opera productions for the whole term. She had, it seemed, been celebrating all night. She visibly enjoyed the cigarette.

And that melody that sounded so familiar, but I just couldn't place? Somewhere between Britten and Schubert? It was "Trees on the Mountain" from Carlisle Floyd's Susannah.