I. JUST ABOUT LUNCH TIME
My wife and I arrived at camp the first day just about lunch time, and after a brief tour, met with the rest of the staff and participants in the dining hall where most of them were already enjoying an assembly line of quesidillas and an assortment of hot tea and flavored water. Hydrate, hydrate, hydrate was the phrase, and I certainly did. The first thing you learn stepping off a plane in Colorado is that thin air and dry heat are not a myth, so chapped lipped and winded we joined the line for our first meal. The dining hall was set up with several long cafeteria style tables leading up to a stage where performances were to take place most nights while we were on site. At the beginning of the first table were displayed three rows of name tags and a box of lanyards. Each name tag with a participants name, place of origin, and instrument listed in that order for easy friend making. There was Katy Dee, New York, Flute - Sue Ann Flecher, Colorado, Dulciean - Chad Buckles, Montana, Viola de Gamba - and me - Nicholas Batten, Virginia, Family. "don't knock it," I said to Lana Dalbee, Montana, Violin, "not a lot of people play the Family these days." She looked past me at a pitcher of Vitamin enriched Agave water, I passed it to her and sat down.
"Oh, you studied Art History at University," remarked a a Baroque treble Viola player originally from New Jersey, "how brave!"
I agreed, I had a good time, I told her.
"I mean, with the job market and all…" she continued but I stopped participating, not because I didn't welcome the conversation but because my attention had been stolen by an older couple on the other side of the table. The woman touched my arm with a "how interesting" squeeze and I knew I was in for a test, it's always the same,
"oh, have you seen blank? in blank? or is it blank? it's been so long since I've been in blank!"
"who is the guy who made blank?"
"can you explain how a low relief works?"
"what is the process of a casting like that one there?"
"I don't believe you didn't study So and So"
It's a conversation that I don't hate, in fact its a great ice breaker and makes for fun banter, but it's also a conversation that I have always been terrible at. Terrible because I'm terrible with people, and I was a terrible student, though it did, in this case, find us all at a common ground, and also distracted the table from discussing my further job prospects. But soon I was running out of things to impress old people with so i deftly turned the discussion back to music. I think I said something like, "oh, there is a beautiful Vivaldi Museum in Venice right near where they filmed Indiana Jones and the Last Crusade!" and then dipped out to the salad bar to watch from afar as the table lit up discussing the finer points of the baroque for the first time, while I turned to the pasta salad and discussed to myself the finer exploits of one Dr. Henry Jones Jr. One meal down, fourteen to go.