I admit having spent too much time in the realm of Holden Caulfield. Later on I’d reread the thing and did not like it . As a kiddo, middle school lost to other people’s recitals and my own tennis lessons, I wanted out. Caulfield represented that same angst. But so did hours spent in the Walters, sidestepping suits of armor, tracing lines against the breeze of Sisley’s strokes.
No patience or ardor rushed from fifteen to seventeen. Cars crumpled into other cars. Eyelashes lengthened over fair skinned noses that wrinkled at me.
There was a shape to solace. Some people have synesthesia, where color gains sound or numbers dedicate themselves to particular seasons. I had shapes and patterns that gave me access to calm. Sound, too, had shapes I could discern, musically. And it had patterns, while you could not see them, they issued that same access to calm.
The Meyerhoffs built the Symphony hall in the early part of those years. All ovals and maudlin burgundy brick, like an abstract steam engine running under the city corridors toward Penn Station a few blocks away.
They’d booked a rock and roll legend on a career upturn. He was a Caulfield kind of guy. And I turned up my leaves to his rain. But watching the stage that night, I got lost in the bass player. He was a musician, not someone who came over to your house and judged you by the records you collected. He listened to sound, he thought about making his notes more birdlike. That was the lesson that night. My shapes, and patterns were widened.
by Hank Cherry