While My Guitar Gently

About two years ago, I fell in love.

You know what that’s like…? Or maybe I’m talking about lust, infatuation, because love is something that incorporates and transcends those things…and lasts, through devotion and work and growth…

So at first, let’s call it lust.  Though this was more than lust, this was sublime – I actually can still feel it.  My heart swoops when I remember the day, the moment that I was overtaken by this ecstatic feeling that raised everything around me along with me to an elevated state – gosh, even the dingy Portland streets shone and gleamed with it .

“There’s someone else, isn’t there? I can sense something.”  My (at the time) long-distance boyfriend asked.

He knew I couldn’t lie; I don’t do that.

“Well…yes. Yes, there is, in a way.”

“In a way?”

“I fell in love today…I fell in love…

with a guitar.”  There was an awkward pause.

“I … I can’t…explain.  A guitar.”  I was incoherent with longing; with the desire to share this beauty but the impossibility of communicating it to him, because he just didn’t understand.

This guitar was …oh… its song was molten honey.  It turned my bones into tuning forks and I had embarrassing tears standing in my eyes every time I heard it; it was like the time I sat in a room and heard Wynton Marsalis play – the notes were thrown out so lightly, to hang impossibly suspended in heart-shattering delicate crystal pure perfection in the middle of the room. The sound didn’t seem like it came from him- it somehow enveloped all of us who sat there… my heart stopped…

that’s what this guitar is like,

even if my teacher was playing scales.

I was in Portland to study Hebrew, and I also took a class in my secret passion – classical guitar.
I can’t hear a well-played classical guitar without tearing up.  It’s embarrassing. My Mom and (ex)boyfriend took me to a restaurant in Jacksonville for my birthday, and there happened to be a classical guitarist (my Mom knows about my kryptonite…it is my kryptonite…) and I sat there with tears running down my face for a while.  My Mom held my hand and grinned at me, with joy that she had given me such a beautiful, absolutely perfect birthday surprise… My boyfriend looked wildly uncomfortable. I just can’t help it. It reaches inside my chest and squeezes my heart so painfully. so beautifully.

It happens even if I’m trying very hard to block it, trying to think about other things, remain sane-ish…

rafael rodriguez


(This isn’t my teacher. This is a Cervantes guitar. oh my heaven…gulp…that guitarrrrrr) 

I still love this guitar. I lust after it. I long for it. I can hear its notes still …

Oh, I’m heavy with longing. To play like that. To play like that.

I can’t even tell you.

I plunk away at Greensleeves or Redemption Song and long , long, long for something I will never touch.

it’s a beautiful feeling, and it reminds me that I am alive….and it reminds me that I am mortal, and that in this lifetime there are some things that are not for me, but that I get to hear and appreciate and love them.
It is so bittersweet.

It stretches me, and challenges me, and sometimes I despair, but the listening is sweetly painful and so it will have to be enough.

This is love.

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