Friday, August 26, 2011

I accidentally saw an opera

Never Done: I accidentally saw an opera

Sometimes I need to be alone to think. I work in a big, open work area -- cubicles with walls that come up to my chest. At its best, this fosters collaboration and creates a warm, collegial atmosphere. At its more frustrating, it makes it hard to get writing and deep thinking done. I needed to do just that -- writing and deep thinking -- and so I decided, rather than try to do it at home, to stay late and work in the vast emptiness.

I remember this feeling. I've often worked late in my old workplaces, and there is something incredibly comforting about it. I think it's related to making the place mine, and actually, as I write about it, I think it goes back further back than workplaces, all the way to being in middle school at night, for a Fireman's supper, or a school play. That feeling of walking down the floors that Mr. Foss and PJ had swept and mopped, lights out in the classrooms, hallways echoing with the absence of voices. It was a little transgressive, and also incredibly comforting all at once. If you're in a place at a time that you aren't usually, you own it. You make it yours. You belong.

So in fact, this isn't a new thing for me. It's just a thing I've never before done at the JCC, and it's actually my way of crossing a threshold into a deeper sense of comfort and ownership of my job and my place in this community. The truly beautiful thing that happened is that because I was thinking about staying late in my high school for plays, I decided to poke my head into the auditorium on my way out -- just to make it feel like my own as well. It's a good thing I went in quietly, because it turned out there was an opera rental in there that hadn't showed up on our website (because it's not really part of my own programming.) A beautiful small production of Tchaikovsky's Eugene Onegin, by Opera Slavica. As it turns out, I have never seen Eugene Onegin, and I stepped in just as two men were about to have a duel over the love of a woman. I heard the beautiful aria that one of the men sings before the other shows up, and then a comic introduction to the duel. What world to I work in that this is possible? If I go down 3 flights, I can go swimming. If I go down 4, I can run on a treadmill or take a yoga class. If I go down 10, I can see an opera. If I go all the way down to the lowest level, I could take a class and learn how to sew shoes. (I work in a vertical community. I could probably embark on an entire new Never Done year, and never leave this building -- especially if I stay late more often.)

I'm at a loss as to how to end this post. I want to write about all the ways we can make spaces our own, or how the shift from day to night shifts our ownership of space, but truly, I think I am just enamored with the fact that I opened a door, and inside I found an opera.


  1. This sounds like a dream, an actual nighttime dream, rather than reality. One I want to live in. I want to go downstairs and open a door and enter an opera I've never seen before. And when it's over go further downstairs and learn how to make shoes. Yes, that's what I want. Now, please.

  2. It IS like a dream! (now, sometimes it's as disjointed as strange as a dream, but it's still like a dream!)