Things move quickly – almost as if there were no motion – when arranged for a purpose: I was there to rehearse and sing for an ordination Mass; two Cistercians (one a former choir member) were to be ordained deacons.
Campus, of course, had not changed, nor significantly the apartments where I had stayed for several years. Met a lot of people over what was really one and a half days, with most of the time spent in airports – a girl who told me that her major came to her while she was praying at Mass (she was being playful. sort of), a professor teaching a course on Evelyn Waugh and his intellectual circle, a doctor from India studying business at community college here, a forklift driver who was very well-educated and well-spoken, a video game enthusiast who participated in competitions and was world-ranked for his efforts. Not insignificantly, I met the latter three away from campus.
I talked too much on campus and its immediate environs, although I did try to ask questions as much as I could. I don’t think I’ve fully come to grips with the fact that while I make a lot of guesses as to what texts mean, I am fully immersed in my field and talking too much is almost necessitated. It is very difficult to describe how I see things in a few words, especially to people familiar with what I read and work with regularly.
But away from campus, I was only asking questions. One of the people in the airport was from Poland and left in the late 70’s; I was very curious as to the attitudes, circumstances and goals that drove the Communists and anti-Communists, and what it was like with the Red Army not merely in the background but very much on the spot. I don’t think I mentioned anything about myself or my work: I sat and listened for a good amount of time and was happy to do so. It was the same with asking about tactics and strategies for the game “Halo,” and how one gets a corporate sponsor for professional gaming; asking about what books people read or what music they were into; asking about the students in community college with an eye to whether colleges give appropriate respect to the amount they have to do independent of school.
The Mass went well: I actually got a glimpse of how choir sounds as a whole because of an exceptional reverberation. We were very sharp this time out, and the best part might have been one I didn’t hear but participated in. We sang Janacek’s “Veni Sancte Spiritus” after many of us learned it in 2 brief rehearsals. There are many intentional dissonances, and choir isn’t professional: none of us are used to hearing our same voice part, divided, blare a note that contrasts sharply with one’s own right in one ear, and hear yet another note from another section that also blares, as it must intentionally. Dissonances in music aren’t usually meant to be the softest part of a piece: they have to be heard, and each section was doing its job. Somehow, this came together and worked Sunday morning. It was one of the few times I’ve ever been on or around campus and felt satisfied.