The Sound of Hope

Puffy-eyed with my ego severely bruised, I sat across from Mr. Possibility feeling especially vulnerable and terribly foolish. It was the great exchange on Saturday: returning the items we kept at our separate places to their rightful owner. I refused to travel to Brooklyn, and so after a little expected protest, he made his way to the Upper West Side, carrying a pair of heels and some cheap perfume (I dare not leave anything of value in his hands – we already saw what that did to my heart).

It is never a pleasant experience to take back the physical things you left in someone’s care. Keeping something even as simple as my night creme or some hair conditioner is symbolic in a way, but it’s more territorial. It’s saying: my stuff is here so no other lady’s stuff can be here, and vice versa. Sure, there are ways to get around such an unintended (but purposeful, I think?) clause. Though I knew I would probably cry and so would he, I was actually looking forward to sealing it all up. If there is nothing left for me to hand over, nothing else I need from his place, then I can put the whole baby to bed. Then, I can really start to mend myself and get to healing the pieces I let get the best of me by being united with him.

It didn’t go as I thought though, it was far more dramatic, as it always is with Mr. P. There were both hateful and loving words, accusatory remarks and pitiful apologies. There were dated excuses and lack-luster advances, discussions of what was and a question of what could be. It was up and down, just as our relationship had been, and he made no real commitment to do anything with graciousness, just has he never done before. By the second hour, I was teetering toward sincerely crying my eyes out with no hope of the type of remorse I wanted him to have in return, when I heard a faint saxophone in the distance.

Distracted by the Louie Armstrong-esqe tune, I stopped talking and asked him to kindly shut up. I listened to the notes and I was brought back to nearly a year ago, almost to the day – when I had my date with freedom.

It was one of my favorite posts and one of my dearest New York memories. I had walked around the Jackie O reservoir, treated myself to fine wine and dinner, and took a gander around the Metropolitan Museum of art. After taking my time and observing everything around me with a loving, attentive eye, I started to head out into the fall afternoon when I heard a saxophone at the edge of the steps at the Met. I never included this part in my post, for at the time, it felt too magical, too personal to share with strangers I hadn’t started to connect with yet.

With that beautiful melody, so smoky yet clear – I sat down near him, threw a dollar or two into his case and just listened. I leaned up against a pillar, my high-heeled feet relieved for some much-need relief and I watched him play. His fingers moved so quickly, his face scrunched up in pure passion – and I could relate. That’s how I feel when I write – when I put everything I have into the medium I best express it with – that’s when I feel alive, that’s when I feel my own form of music run through my veins. It doesn’t take as much breath support, but it requires some pretty fast hands. He was older but with a kind face, and I think he was satisfied with the company he attracted. I couldn’t tell you though, anything about those people who shared that moment with me. At the time, it felt like I was listening to the melodies in the New Orleans, in a private little bar that was just for me.

I was mesmerized.  Once dusk started to trickle into the city, I picked myself up and gave a few more dollars before walking away and making a promise to myself: I will go to a jazz club alone, wear a stunning black dress and red lipstick, and I will sit in the front row with some burgundy wine and spend the night with the music.

I never went to a jazz club,” I said to Mr. P wistfully. “You never told me you wanted to go to a jazz club. I would have taken you,” he defended himself (as usual). “Because I didn’t ever want to go with you. I wanted to go alone,” I replied, maintaining eye contact. “Well, if you ever want to go, I could maybe take you sometime,” he offered, fully trying to free himself of any guilt. “I won’t want to go with you. I want to go with me,” I replied before leaning further out of my chair, trying to hear more of the sax.

He probably didn’t get it – I’m not even sure I did right then-and-there. But what I meant was, against my better judgment and during this wonderful journey, I still lost myself in the relationship. I still wandered off my own path to try to make two parallel roads join together, though as logic tells us – they never would have. I stopped doing those things I wanted to do. I placed my best interest and sometimes, my friends and family behind Mr. Possibility in some desperate mission to make something that wasn’t working, work. I lost sight of what New York meant to me in an effort to make myself mean something to him. I stopped planning for what I wanted, what I hoped to do, so I could try to urge Mr. P into making plans with me.

But then – mind my ridiculously cliché pun – I heard the music. I was brought back to that date, before Mr. Unavailable was Mr. P, before there were any distractions of the male kind. And I remembered what I wanted to do, and there in that depressing moment where I knew my relationship was officially over and the key to his door and to my heart were switched – I found some strength. I found something to look forward to.

Tonight, on my way to the train from yet another blissful day at work, I walked down 14th Street between Sixth and Seventh Avenue and I heard that addicting melody again – someone in some apartment was playing their little tune, and I smiled. It echoed on the block the whole way down, almost like a marching anthem to remind me of what’s important in my life. When I turned the corner and cascaded down the grimy steps, already bubbly from hearing the music, I was so astonished to see another saxophone player on the platform that I laughed.

Those who noticed my uncontrollable giggles probably wrote me off as another crazy mad woman in New York — but to me, the mix of my own laughter paired with the brilliance of a talented, bluesy player sounded like one thing: hope.