In defense of killing my violin
The first time I remember feeling something close to love was in the 6th grade. A Dutch boy who had only joined my orchestra program a year before proved to be somewhat of a rival. In the 6th grade, I had established a short legacy of principal chair dominance. I could tell that this boy wanted my seat. He never got it.
What I remember about the boy is his olive skin and his olive eyes and his chestnut hair. I was very into Zac Efron at the time. My Dutch Orchestra Zac Efron had a crisp, smooth voice. He stuttered a little when he talked. The early days of my infatuation were intense. I never let him onto my admiration because I was quiet. I spoke through my instrument. We would meet at orchestra rehearsals every Saturday, so I had to wait an entire week before hearing the 5 words he would exchange with me. Some Saturdays he did not show up.
These were the early days, and the era finally ended with words not directed towards me. I was the concertmaster of the winter concert. The director of the program asked me something like, “Aidan? Aidan Keys? Concert Master, right?” The Dutch Boy, with his teenybopper charm answered for me. “No,” he said. I must’ve given him the side eye. “No. She’s Concert-mistress.” I replayed the moment in my head for weeks.
The next era of my infatuation started after I dropped my violin before a concert because I made direct eye contact with the Dutch Boy and couldn’t handle my instrument or the depth of his emerald eyes. I was in first violins, and he was in second violins. The eye contact was a testament to our long distance passion. This passion shattered my violin into incorrigible wreckage, a great sacrifice to the prospect of having a Dutch Boy(friend).
Accordingly, the next Saturdays were the Era of the Dead Violin. It was a painful epoch in my life. It mainly hurt because my sacrifice had really been for nothing. Now, I was stuck with a plywood box that looked more like sap than the wood it ran from. In some ways, I thought, okay well, I killed my violin for you, now you HAVE to like me. But it seemed that as soon as the violin fell, Dutch Boy started to say my friend’s name differently. Her name had an an L at the end, and he would hold the L and sing it to sleep before he let the A that came afterward end the ecstasy of feeling her name on his tongue. Her name was distinctly Spanish, but he translated it to Dutch. Soon my mom told me that Saturday was his favorite day of the week too.
The Dead Violin phase lasted most of my middle school years. My middle school experience looked the way my teeth did. My emotions were mostly uneven, like jagged rocks of my bottom deck. The milestones of each school year jut out in the wrong places like my top canines, which grew deep in my gum and on top of the other teeth. And like my teeth, my time in middle school was ugly. So every Saturday was a sanctuary for me, and as long as I thought of the Dutch boy and his 5 words, I felt safe in his image. It didn’t matter that he never thought about me beyond my instrument.
When I finally got braces, right before my freshman year of high school, my friend left the program despite having captured the heart of the one and only Dutch Boy. Things straightened out. I was once again the concertmaster of the orchestra, and the Dutch Boy sat in the second violins. Almost no one we had once attended classes with still played with the program, so we were each others’ lines of adolescent history. One would even call us friends. We sat with each other during lunch. One day he told me he wanted to go to the Netherlands for college and I told him, “Cool!”
I wasn’t the best concertmistress. I relied on my natural talent and I was almost always late for rehearsal. But the Dutch Boy stayed true to his word. He knew I was concert mistress, so he never critiqued me for my sloth. Our conductor would make him play concertmaster when I wouldn’t arrive on time, and when I walked on stage he would move a seat back. Soon, we laughed together. He became my closest friend in the section. He respected my legacy.
Until he didn’t. We were only on top of the junior orchestra. The next year we auditioned for a position in the higher orchestra and he got in and I didn’t. I was humiliated. I soon saw him walking up the stairs and as soon as he disappeared behind a wall I cursed loudly that he didn’t deserve the position and that I was better and he shouldn’t have left me all alone. I told myself that he made it because he was a senior in high school and the orchestra had a pity complex. I’m sure he heard me because we didn’t talk much after then and our friendship dissolved to a salt that dried the cells of my thirst.
I’m not sure when I saw him again after that. I think our last exchange was in the hallway of the high school where our orchestra met and he was about to leave. He smiled at me. It was a smile of familiarity, like the strings had never dug any grooves in his fingers.
I have loads of theories why I’ve never been kissed, or loved someone romantically who loved me romantically. The first theory used to be, of course, that I was ugly. But I squashed this fear last year.
I was on a bus in New York City. It was February My orchestra decided to tour in Harlem for some black history show (It was quite offensive. The whole concept of the show was: the orchestra plays a history of African American music as a black American opera woman reads a script using the Great American Black American Buzzwords: freedom, soul, roots, power…) I had never seen New York in the snow. It was beautiful, like a little paper collage in a children’s book. As conceited as it may sound, I found myself in that, because as I stared out the window, my little violin thumbs typed “You know what, I am beautiful. I am really, really beautiful.” This was the first time I believed it. Truly.
The snow was not as beautiful once my friends texted me back. I don’t remember much from the exchange, only that the snow out the window was too white and what was underneath was too black. My friends somehow wound up comparing me to a slug.
Eventually, I told them about not bringing another confident woman down and all that, and they apologized, but I still felt hurt in some ways. I felt a little less beautiful, but I didn’t forget the feeling on the bus. Now, I’m generally in love with my face.
The second theory is that I have never found Love.
AIDAN'S interests include Ibra, flowers, African-American culture and linguistics, Spanish and Portuguese language, orchestras, androgynous fashion, coming of age movies, family saga books, and fried bread/sports diplomacy. She writes feature stories.