Going Full Circle

I have decided that I want to make the last part of my life into a circle in which the “me” child and the “me” aged adult become entwined. My goal is to return to those activities that I loved doing when I was a child. No longer standing on the side lines, I want to twist life like a wet dish cloth and ring out the last essence of joy.

Maybe this is the beginning to becoming child-like but I don’t think so. I have never been on top of my game as I am now. I seem to have gained more insight not less as the years go by. I think this is what is meant by wisdom. I am truly lucky to have lived so long; to be able to reach across my younger years and re-capture those activities which throughout the years have fallen across my mind like whispers of past night’s dreams remembered in the waking haze of the next morning. Riding on a circular spiral, i seem to be evolving into an alternate state of being. Maybe this is what it means to prepare for one’s death.

At 70, I finally found a voice teacher who would consider taking on an older person who doesn’t have a career to look forward to; but the daily experience of being present in the moment. The experience is electrifying. In her presence my body becomes an instrument that pumps air and sound. It is a kind of machine made up of bellows, pumping air to engorge the back of the rounded arch in my throat held as a yawn exploding in a high pitched sound. The top of my head feels like it is blowing off. I am reminded of the cartoon in the opening of the ancient British program, “Monty Python’s Flying Circus” where the head opens and it becomes an airborne, flower pot. My concentration is stilted as I forget all time and space making manifest, the heard connected sounds inside my head. I don’t know how it happens but to me it is a great mystery to me and I can’t believe it; I am actually, at my age making progress. On good days, when I am not congested, I can reach a little more than a two octave range.

I am not blowing smoke rings or wishing on passing clouds. I am actually doing it; taking action to participate in an activity it took me 52 years to put back in my life. When I was nineteen, I went with my first husband to the Ansonia Hotel in New York City to hear his friend’s singing lesson. In the early 1960’s the Ansonia Hotel was a special place which housed many well known musicians and performing artists. The teacher was an elderly man originally from Mexico who had sung with the La Scala in Milano, Italy. After the lesson, as a kind of goof, he asked me to get up and repeat some scales which he played on the piano.
Being very nervous, self-conscious and shy, I complied. The result was that he took me on as a student, without charge, and even began to teach me Italian.

I loved learning how to use my voice to make beautiful sounds. Unfortunately I only lasted about eight months. When I became pregnant with my first child, I had to stop. My dream ended…..the door shut….so I thought.

My goal, if I can have one at my age, is to perform songs in Yiddish; the whinny, wailing songs that talk about the struggles and hopes of a people. Having grown up in a neighborhood in Brooklyn comprised of displaced immigrants from Eastern Europe, this music and cadence of the language feels safe, offering a pillow of comfort. My voice is getting better and I am getting closer to my goal.

Even though I know it is an illusion, it brings me
great pleasure to be-coming full circle, returning to a love I thought was lost; a floral gift, a precious bouquet.

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