Facebook reminds me that this October 11 is National Coming Out Day.
I tend not to speak of my sexual orientation on this blog, but today I’m going to tell a story.
When I was in high school, I was close friends with a classmate. We were in orchestra together.
One weekend night, at a sleepover at his house, we were listening to the Dvorák B-minor cello concerto, sitting close together in a living room only lit by a single light over the piano.
The recording was the Du Pré, from 1971. My friend was telling me that she had subsequently, not long after the recording was made, stopped playing because of a diagnosis of multiple sclerosis. (She died in the early 1980s.)
There was in the living room that evening a quiet spirit and connection. We were united in mystical reverence for the Dvorák . . . sorrow in the despairing thought of this great artist silenced . . . and also in an unspoken yearning between us — yearning that was never requited.
Last year, the Saint Louis Symphony Orchestra performed this very same Dvorák concerto. I was seated in a dress circle box, and as I listened to that magical final movement, thoughts of that sleepover from nearly 40 years ago swirled around me. I found myself tearful at the bittersweet thoughts of what might have been, what was, what is . . . and the now-immemorial brilliant voice of Jacqueline Du Pré.
So to my readers and friends around the globe, there’s part of my story.
Those final thumping chords, and that last impassioned swell from the cello — they get me every time.
Here’s some the Du Pré recording: