Small remedies – Berlin

Saturday started out blue. It wasn’t easy shepherding the family out of the apartment that morning for a walk in the sunshine. It began with me alternately cheering and yelling, “Come on, come on! Did everyone go to the bathroom? Brush your teeth! Grab your masks! Let’s go, let’s go!” After each of us had managed to forget something on our way out the door and had gone back to grab it, we finally made it outside. It’s only three flights down to the street, but sometimes, when trying to beat the crowds to some empty space on the sidewalk on a Saturday morning, three flights can seem like the world. Once we made it down and out and a whole block away, my husband still had to run back to grab the jackets we had left behind because…well, it was almost June in Berlin, and who knew?

I had woken up Saturday morning remembering that that night would have been my debut in Dresden’s stunningly beautiful Frauenkirche. I would have been singing Handel’s Messiah, one of my favorites, and my family would have been in the audience cheering me on because it was the weekend, and they are good eggs that way. Instead, here we were once again, trying to forge our own little bubble outside in the city where we wouldn’t come too close to other people. Even after months of living like this, the isolation is still a bit surreal. Once a family of smilers, we are now a family of mask wearers. Once a family that greeted other people kindly whether we knew them or not, we are now a family that keeps to ourselves, avoiding contact, always searching for that illusory 1.5 meter distance.

There we were, dodging and weaving through the crowds a bit more than usual, it being an open air market day, when we decided we had had enough and were ready to give up and go home. And then we heard the music. It was coming from a few blocks away, and my heart started to pound, and my eyes began to fill. Please let this be something real, not someone’s radio, not some illusion. We raced (at least my heart was racing) towards the small crowd of people on the street and looked up to find a few members of the Deutsches Symphonie-Orchester Berlin playing Mozart atop a double decker “Top Tour Berlin” bus stopped in a Senior Residency Home’s parking lot. I had to laugh at the incongruity, the ingenuity of it all. This was no concert hall, but they were playing arias from Mozart’s Magic Flute, and one of my daughters started to sing along quietly to the Queen of the Night. Even as a musician, I was completely unprepared for the emotions that would come from hearing live music again for the first time in months. It made me feel more human again. It made my child sing in the street. Seeing the smiles of the senior residents taking in the music from their balconies high above was a small but irreplaceable balsam, and enough to carry me through the rest of the day.

6 thoughts on “Small remedies – Berlin

  1. What a wonderful read. Since you talked about The Magic Flute that is what we pulled up on the computer to enjoy while preparing for Shabbat. Be well stay safe and find joy. Shabbat Shalom. Rhona and Bruce Sloan.

  2. Live music! I cannot even imagine the feeling. Opera houses across the US have cancelled their seasons through the rest of 2020. I hope these outdoor musical insurrections will become more and more commonplace as those of us with music-filled hearts can no longer bear to keep it contained.
    Empathy is the enemy of division. Such music can be a powerful path to empathy between everyone frustrated and angered by recent events (as in most of 2020 so far).
    Thank you for sharing this story from your day, and for sharing the beauty of your heart.
    And don’t forget to go to the bathroom and brush your teeth.

    1. Thank you, David. I really like what you said, “Empathy is the enemy of division.” And on a lighter note, no chance of forgetting to brush the choppers – these kids would remind me!

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