The minute you capture a moment, it’s over.
I’ve been reading about photography, as you do when you’re a literature student, and that’s what I’ve learned from the critics. They say there’s a naivety to photos. There’s a little-did-you-know essence. It’s like when I see a picture of an old friend of mine years before she got hooked on drugs, looking so innocent and unaware. A photo does not represent something that is “already but not yet” (a concept that I babbled about in my last blog post), a photo is “what had been,” it’s something that is no more.
A week from today marked an evening of photos. November the 13th.
What I mean is, after three hours of practice Wednesday night, Thursday night, and Friday afternoon, it was finally, finally, the orchestra concert. My shoulders ached, my fingertips had dried into white crusts, and I had an armload of reading to do when I got home. But I was at St. Andrew’s Hall, performing a concert that my fellow instrumentalists and I have been rehearsing for since the beginning of term. This was the night that made all those practices worth it. After our first piece performed onstage, we rose to our feet and the cameras flashed, securing a moment we could only aim to recreate after another season of rigorous rehearsals.
I let out a deep exhale. One more piece to go. But first, a fifteen-minute interval. The orchestra retreated to the backroom and we set our instruments down in a safe place. I fetched a cup of water and then plunged into the crowd to seek out my friends who had lovingly come to show support. As I elbowed my way through the crush of people, swarming the bar, I passed a familiar face. I did a double-take. I nudged her arm.
“Bonjour,” I said.
It was my French teacher. She glanced over, flashed me her signature smirk – which always felt like an extra challenge to face up to when learning French – and said, “Bonjour,” before returning to the conversation she was having with her chums. As I continued past them, I heard their voices. They all spoke French.
I love seeing people I know, even if I know them vaguely, at orchestra concerts. The more people I recognize, the more distinct it feels that we’re sharing the joy of music. From French teachers to housemates who study math, it’s like we all unite in the name of music. It’s like a celebration of something. Afterwards, there’s photos taken, as usual, either within the cozy, 16th-century hall or at the pub, with drinks raised in triumph.
Anyway, two hours later, I was at home getting ready for bed. I tried to focus on something happy. I tried not to think about Paris. I know, I’ll make zucchini bread tomorrow.
I thought of my French teacher, encircled by her friends, lost in the midst of a festive mood. If they were feeling that mood, it was definitely over by now.
I wondered if, at the concert or at the pub, they had taken a photo.