Thursday, August 10, 2006

Come what may

The lobby began to fill with people at the start of intermission for the Philadelphia Orchestra's Valentine Concert. I was there with someone that I had been seeing for several months, and that night also happened to be my date's birthday. The crowd continued to fan out beneath the sprawling glass and chrome ceiling of the newly built Kimmel Center. We made our way over towards an enormous grand piano placed off to the side, where two young women in formal dresses were running through some scales and leafing through pages of sheet music. I sat the birthday girl down on a nearby chair and received an inquistive look as I walked over towards the front of the piano. I nodded over at the two women and stepped up to a microphone as the first notes began to play.
* * * * * * * *
Valerie and I met at a Halloween Party in October 2001--she was in a bridesmaid’s gown for her costume (“Always a bridesmaid, never a bride”) and I was wearing an authentic WWII paratrooper uniform. We went on our first date the following week and we both agreed early on to skip the usual dating games and just let things develop naturally at their own pace. Things took off pretty fast from there and we soon realized that there was a genuine connection between us.

Since Valerie’s birthday was on Valentine’s Day, I wanted to do something to make it truly special. We had recently watched ‘Moulin Rouge’ together and the song “Come What May” had been stuck in my head for days afterwards. The lyrics seemed perfect and thankfully it was within my vocal range. I contacted the manager of Kimmel Center to get permission to perform the song in the lobby during intermission, and made arrangements with some local musicians to rehearse together a few times before the night of the concert. When the actual performance began, the first half of the program was a total blur. I spent the majority of it sitting in my seat constantly repeating the lyrics over and over in my head.
* * * * * * * *
The grand piano gave the notes a rich, clear sound that soon rose above the ambient noise of the lobby. One by one, several heads throughout the crowd started to turn in the direction of the music. I began to pat the outside of my pant leg in time with the rhythm as the introduction reached its final measures. I was doing it partly out of nervousness and also to help count off the beats until the cue for the first vocal entrance. But mainly I wanted to reassure myself that the box holding the engagement ring was still right there in my pocket.