Sunday, November 09, 2014

One week left

Over the last couple of months I began the logistical and emotional journey of repatriating to the U.S. after seven years in Qatar. Since this isn’t only a journey to a different place but a journey to a different way of being, I haven’t really known what to expect. As of this last weekend, the logistics are pretty much in place – had a garage sale, sold the car and piano, and completed the preparation for shipping my belongings. I still have the processes of cancelling my residence permit, clearing my ville, arranging bank closure, and a couple of other things but the week is manageable.

The emotional journey has been a mix of everyday life coupled with occasional moments where I suddenly react, “Oh, this is the last…” Because I am so excited about being back with my family, the idea of not seeing some of my friends and colleagues here has not been bad but I anticipate that, as the time nears, I am likely to struggle.

An odd emotional moment occurred in bidding farewell to my piano on this last Friday morning. I had to leave early to participate in a student leadership development desert challenge so I left my ville key with the family who bought the piano, allowing them to pick up the piano whenever they could. As I was waiting to be picked up at 7:30 a.m., I played several Rachmaninoff pieces, ending with the Rachmaninoff Prelude IV, Op. 23, No. 4. The Prelude IV was the first piece I picked up when I began to get serious about practicing again so it has a special meaning to me as the invitation to what has been a rediscovery of music in my life.

The Prelude IV, Op. 23, No. 4 concludes with a last crescendo from pianissimo to mezzo forte, a silent (and in my interpretation prolonged) pause, and a very simple a-major 7th chord resolving into d-major. My body reacts to this final phrase by gradually releasing a deep and long breath as the last crescendo rises. Then my body automatically draws in a quick a renewing breath in the pause and then releases a final exhale as the final two chords resolve quietly in a never- ending and peaceful silence. The notes and the entire experience of breathing with the music are a relief to my body and my heart. I hope that the little piano that gave me so much pleasure understood what I was saying…

I have been so privileged to work in Qatar, to discover worlds I never imagined, and to rediscover music as a central part of my life. Many, many years ago I thought I wanted to be a concert pianist but the pressure of performance made me too nervous to play my best when performing for others; thus, I moved to higher education. The journey of higher education has been incredible and fulfilling, ending with this last crescendo in Qatar. Perhaps, I’ll have a last crescendo with music when I return to be with Diane, the girls, our sons-in-law, and little Reese…

3 comments:

Susan Komives said...

Loved your imagery of breathing with the music; great parallels to life. WELCOME HOME!
Susan

CurtVK said...

I still vividly remember becoming overwhelmed with emotion the last time I walked out of the Student Center. I was uncomfortable in the moment but I loved the fact that I felt such a strong connection to my experience to have such a reaction in the first place. Wishing you a heartfelt goodbye…all my best, Curt.

Rian said...

Reading your post brought my vividly back to the moment when I was leaving Wollongong, Australia. I had been there for just three years, but it had been long enough (and such a positive experience) to genuinely call it home. I knew I would miss friends terribly, but was also confident in our ability to stay together despite the distance. I was excited by what may come (as I didn't yet know at the time), but buoyed as well by the promise of being closer to family again. Such a powerful mix of emotions. It took me more than a year to sort through those emotions, I think, and probably longer still to mentally repatriate. I see that process in the most positive of lights though. The learning never stops.

Safe travels and fond farewells. My best wishes to you in this time of transition, Denny.