Wednesday, December 22, 2010
The Cello's Call
Rachel, the cellist, whose musical tone reminded me of butter melting on summer corn, contacted me to tell me her story. By now the news of my mission to speak with classical musicians had started to spread amongst the community. Her velvet voice cut through the cyber static and engaged me with her first startling words.
“I’d become used to channeling my sexuality into my cello. Then I met her, and I became her instrument. I need to tell my story. Call me.”
She left her cell number and then abruptly hung up. Silence once again. I lit a cigarette from excitement or nerves, I’m not sure which. But I’d calmed down by the time I had the clarity to punch in her digits.
Somehow she knew that it was I for she said simply, “Meet me at Joe’s coffee shop on Columbus and 85th street in one hour.“ Then again silence in the wake of her hypnotic voice.
I thought about how musicians became more like their instruments as they developed musically and deepened their involvement with their world of sound – their art. Rachel’s voice had the cello’s deep and sonorous tone. And instead of the tall, wiry woman that I’d expected, she, like the cello, was short and a little heavy with a gently curving waist. I thought about how it reminded me of people who started to look like their pets, or visa versa, I’m not sure that people didn’t choose animal partners who mirrored their unique physical attributes.
I was surprised when I heard her call my name and turned to see the voluptuous woman with milk-chocolate eyes that startled me as they stared from an almost translucent face. I was right about one thing Rachel’s eyes were compelling and deep.
“Thanks for meeting me,” she said and ran her graceful fingers through short Auburn hair.
“ Well, I am intrigued.” I said and then added, “thank you for contacting me.”
“Are you surprised that I called about my obsession with another woman?”
“Naturally not,” I was too eager to reassure her. “I mean lesbians are cool, right? Everyone wants to join the club. But obsession is to be avoided in any gender preference.”
“Well, I didn’t expect this,” she said emphatically. And once again, my imagination hurried to fill the silence. But I reigned myself in determined to listen with a journalist’s objectivity.
“So what happened?” I motioned to the waitress that we were ready to order.
“Three shots of espresso with soy foam, please.” Then I motioned to Rachel.
“ Black tea,” she said quietly.
Once we had dispatched with the necessities, I leaned forward and briefly touched her hand.
“I admire your courage. Please start wherever you want, whenever it began for you.”
“Well,” Rachel spread her elegant hands and motioned helplessly.
“It began with her name. Layla Light. I liked the alliteration and it kind of made me feel, I don’t know, happy. She’d begun to follow me on Twitter.”
She paused and moved her arms gracefully as though she held her beloved cello. I played with my soy foam forming little ski slopes with the froth, but I watched her from beneath my eyelashes.
“She began to send me direct messages and I was intrigued with her writing It was very expressive but conveyed real depth. And something more. There was shadow side to her sense of humor. She’d told me about how she admired musicians and their dedication. After a while we decided to meet.
I’d become disillusioned with the self-absorbed New York men with their staggering sense of entitlement. Music was my love and I’d become comfortable with that decision. But when Layla looked at me with eyes that looked like she’d created the world, I felt something stir within. I was drawn into her eyes and couldn’t look away. I found the way that the right side of her mouth tilted upwards when she smiled terribly exciting. Layla leaned forward to tell me a confidence and hee touch was soft like my bow against the cello. That’s when things became complicated, even before I knew what she was. But by then, I was hopelessly in love with Layla. I couldn’t turn back. I didn’t want to.