Recently, I’ve had this hankering for nostalgia. I think I’ve seen enough “life” by now to be able to miss “the good old days” without having some old geezer yell at me for being “too young to really understand.” Yes, I’m bitter. I’m plenty bitter, thank you. You know what? I’m getting older every single day and one of these days, old geezer, you’re going to be dead and I’m just going to laugh.
I missed “the good old days” enough to pull out my CDs and put in some of LCHS Chamber Singers’ music from 2001-2003. I was only in Chamber my senior year, but I knew people in it before that and remember memorizing some of the stuff they sang because it was so beautiful. (In case Dave is reading this: I’m talking about “She Walks in Beauty”, “And So It Goes”, and “My Love Walks in Velvet”; and to a lesser degree, “Water Night”, and “Cloudburst”. Some of the music I learned my senior year overlapped with previous years, so I also learned “Lux Arumque”, “O Magnum Mysterium”, and “A Glimpse of Snow and Evergreen” among others, like all the holiday songs we had to memorize for all those private concerts.)
I was reminiscing. I was the alto selected from Chamber to sing in the grand concert in New York; I was selected, along with three other people (one soprano, one tenor, and one bass), to represent Chamber to the rest of the choirs there at the competition. On of the pieces we sang was “Shall I Compare Thee to a Summer’s Day?” arranged by Z. Randall Stroope, who also conducted. I remember him looking out at all of us—the voices each representing a different choir—giving us notes and saying something like, “Oh, and that diminuendo is actually supposed to be a crescendo; the composer doesn’t know what he’s talking about.” And we all laughed because he was the composer. I didn’t realize at that time how much of an honor it was to sing under his direction, but I’m thankful now. I fell in love with that song and the sonnet upon which it is based. It’s still one of my favorites.
I was thinking about Chamber because I have plenty of regrets. I regret not being more disciplined. I regret my sister not getting in to Chamber the following year, or the one after that. And the more I think about it, I don’t think I’d go back, at least not for Chamber. I loved it. I was in love with the music my senior year, and for all the other things I wasn’t able to do, I could still sing. But it wasn’t like what I remember, really. A lot of it sucked; I didn’t like many of my fellow choir members, for example. As Chamber Singers, we were full of ourselves, and I don’t want that back. We sang well, but we weren’t as good as we thought. Memories are really just the gold-dusted version of actual events because, honestly, who wants to remember the crappy stuff? No one.
It makes my heart ache to think about high school. I miss it so much, but I know I can’t go back, and I don’t think I would even if I could. I’d do a lot of things differently, knowing what I know now, and I’d be a different person today. I don’t like who I am right now, but I can’t hate myself. There’s too much good in me to hate myself. That is, there have been too many good things I’ve been a part of that I would dishonor if I hated myself or my current situation. But that doesn’t mean that Chamber—or any other part of high school, for that matter—was really “the good old days”. I don’t believe in “the good old days” anymore. I can only believe in the good things and try to correct the bad if I can. Either way, I can’t go back, so I have to let go before I’m trapped in the past like those old geezers who look at me and tell me I’m “not old enough to understand”.
But, I can’t forget, either. I have to love and forgive all the shitty things that I’ve done and that have happened. I can’t forget, or the things that I must live to honor will be lost, for I’m the only one who can honor them in my way.
So long as men can breathe or eyes can see,
So long lives this and this gives life to thee.