For the purpose of singing a wedding with Collegium.
They waited for me. On the plane I was told we would be delayed; there was no opportunity to warn them. The delays seemed interminable. I was very worried they would leave the airport without me. The hotel name and address I didn’t know. A very nice man let me use his Blackberry to check my e-mail. No use. Impossible to get to any but the most current mail easily. The message I needed was from weeks ago: there was no search feature given the browser.
No matter. The rest of my day was two cheap but satisfying meals, a frustrating rehearsal where I did learn a new piece better, a lot of time alone at a mall in Des Moines. Perhaps America is great when it is affordable – no, that can’t be right. Read much of Heidegger’s short lecture “Poetically Man Dwells:” man, between known (earth) and unknown (heavens), is a perspective of sorts. In front of me sat an exceptionally beautiful woman – she wore no makeup – who spoke in a casual, endearing tone first on the phone, then to another woman who recognized her. She was reading a guide to divorce and the few comments I overheard indicated that this wasn’t a big deal for her. If she got custody, whatever. What seemed to confuse her was estate valuation. She paid me no heed.
On the flight before I saw portions of Iowa had flooded, and people had simply built around the floodplain. Throughout my stay, the greenness of Iowa never failed to impress.
The wedding Mass and reception were elegant, grand and ritualistic, not so much intimate. The times something broke through were packaged awkwardly, to great effect. Fr. Ralph March said (paraphrasing): “As I have been ordained to the priesthood, so you have been ordained to the married life.” He placed emphasis on the fact that the couple marry each other, that the priest simply bears witness. He only spoke at the Mass. Others dominated the reception. That was held at a winery; the wine was excellent and flowed smoothly with crisp, clean flavors. The bread, meant to go with a variety of relishes, was already broken for us. I didn’t dance.
Both the wedding and Sunday morning Mass were sung with accurate phrasing, and, in places, a solid understanding of dynamics. It was fun to make music with others. I can’t imagine anyone else was unimpressed. And there was real feeling. At the airport, some played cards. I bought a Sunday New York Times for $6 and invited a group of us to read. It reminded me of Sunday afternoons growing up – quiet time with the paper, sharing. On the two flights back: first, a dark-haired knockout in a summer dress sat next to me. We didn’t talk much. She said she didn’t pay for most of her meals. Second, a gentleman in IT consulting who had an open-mindedness I envy. It was clear he made the most of his reading science-fiction, the community at church, music blogs, and of course his travels. He was genuinely excited about what he learned with his wife and kids. I imagine he was missed very much at that moment.