I’m listening to this really complicated piece on YouTube. (I can’t find it anywhere else.) It was part of a program I played — well, was supposed to play — at a local event for young musicians. It is, to lapse into Bostonian for a minute, wicked hahd.

And I played it.

This was in the days when I was in the habit of running offstage to, if not be sick, then at least hold my stomach and moan. In fact, it was the last concert I played unmedicated. Ever. Because there was just no way for me to cope beyond that episode. What was I good for if I couldn’t play?

So normally I listen to this one with a little disappointment. Today, though, without any prompting from my conscious mind, a thought strayed through: I played this piece. I get to be proud.

Heroes, Lost and Fallen was easily the hardest part of that whole program, and I did it. I got through. Listen for the flute line and tell me you could’ve done that at sixteen-nearly-seventeen. (If you could, by the way, I salute you.) That right there? That is a university band.

Yes, I ran offstage during a simple I-forget-which-dance. It doesn’t matter, because I stayed put for the very hardest number, and so I am finally fully okay with what happened. It helps that my dad apologised for the comments he made when I told him, “I will panic at some point and run offstage” (e.g. “Too bad, get up there, Mr. B will hate you if you don’t”) and after (“You are in TROUBLE”). The thing is that I had to forgive myself, too, for doing something I perceived as letting the side down. Really, when you are sixteen-nearly-seventeen, have just lost ten pounds in one week due to stress, and been pulled off an airplane by paramedics having panicked through half the flight, you are not capable of willfully letting anyone down. You are pretty damn strong for staying standing long enough to get through the very hardest piece you will play in your entire musical career, counting the one you will spend the next summer learning and the entire next year rehearsing.

I was pretty damn strong. If I broke down the next Monday, screw it, I needed the break. So did my brain, because there’s not much left of that month in terms of memory, or of that whole spring. That’s okay with me. I don’t need the memory. I just need the peace, and I have found it.


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