Sunday, July 05, 2009

The Beethoven Connection



(Ironically I can't enjoy the above YouTube due to Dialup Dementia but I have in the past and also have the CD which I am playing right now).

I met him first about 20 odd years ago. In a recovery group. He took an enormous shine to me but he was far too needy and vulnerable. Every time he asked me out I asked my friend Judy to come along too. I just couldn’t hurt the man, he was a walking wounded.

Friends referred to him as my puppy. But in a kind way. He no sooner saw me anywhere but he would came lolloping over, smiling beatifically, cling to whatever spare part of me that was available, my arm, my hand, my shoulder, often he would touch a hand to my cheek and just stand there and beam. Even when there were others around.

I never knew what he saw in me that made him light up like this. I couldn’t ask even though I wanted to. It would have implied a desire for further intimacy on my part that just wasn’t there. Physically he did nothing for me, or emotionally. Intellectually and culturally, yes. We shared a passion for Beethoven, particularly a passion for the Choral Fantasia. Neither of us had ever met anyone in our lives before who shared the same sublime desire for that wondrous piece of music and never, ever tire of it. A piece that is rarely performed live as it is so incredibly expensive to mount.

About three years after I met him, a high school friend of his (I’ll call her Nina) was divorced from her husband and she and my friend Paul (pseudonym) were married. It was an odd kind of marriage. Impossible to say whether it was happy or not. Paul and Nina sniped at each other incessantly. About everything and nothing. It was a constant background counterpoint to their lives. Paul became a workaholic. Nina quit work soon after they married, diagnosed with bi-polar disorder.

I was a welcome guest to their home to hear the latest of Paul’s audio equipment. His main hobby was constantly upgrading it. He was a total aficionado of the best in sound systems. I’ve never gone this crazy over the best of equipment though do admire it in the homes of those that do care about such things. And to be honest, I do have difficulty with the five times as much money being spent on state of the art speakers than on a brand new car. Almost an obscenity in my book.

I stopped going to their home though. They would get into a battle about which one of them had my attention at any moment in time. I felt like I was a prize in some bizarre fairground game. Paul would sit me down in his audiophile leather chair and play Beethoven for me. She would vie for my attention with her art and photos of her grandsons. He would tell her stop it. She would tell him f*** off and round and round we’d go. Enough, I said to myself about 4 years ago. I get very agitated when surrounded with such antagonism. I have to leave. So I do, not caring about the flimsy excuse offered. And in spite of many invitations I just could not go back there.

Paul hadn’t been well, he didn’t take care of himself. He carried a lot of weight, had bowel blockages which involved several surgeries and terrible pain, diabetes, high blood pressure and heart trouble. He was on a lot of medication. And then he developed pulmonary fibrosis.

The last time we were together was in the spring. Though off work on indefinite sick leave, he had treated himself to a new BMW with everything on board, I couldn’t count the luxurious add-ons. But I remember his moon roof and the talking GPS and the surround sound. The lack of oxygen in his body meant that he had driven it only a few times. Nina had taken over the driving of the dream car. We went off down the country and the sniping from breathless Paul and a controlling and almost gloating Nina was very unpleasant but he was very courtly at dinner in an out of the way restaurant, he reminded me of the old pre-marriage Paul, pulling my chair out, touching my shoulder and cheek.

I said to Nina how gentlemanly his behaviour was. I hadn’t seen that side of him in a while.

She responded without a trace of jealousy or resentment: Oh, but he adores you!

Less than two weeks ago, his breathing had gotten worse so he was hospitalized. He was finally eating again but the oxygen mask was a permanent fixture now. On July 1st, after his breakfast, he slipped back on his pillow and his breathing stilled. Forever. He was just 62 years old.

I play my beloved Choral Fantasia in his honour. And reflect on the compromises we (all of us) make in life and how elusive happiness is.

13 comments:

  1. How sad, but you have him still.

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  2. Unrequited love is difficult to deal with from both sides.

    You take care. Hugs.

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  3. I hadn't heard that before, WWW. Not exactly my cup of tea, but I enjoyed listening - broadening my mind! ;-)

    Sorry to hear of your friend's far too early death. Even though you didn't match each other emotionally, you did add some color and texture (and lessons ?) to each other's lives. Something to treasure, as he must have done, I feel sure.

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  4. oh those connections we don't even know we're making....and don't know what to do with when we do.

    what a fascinating story.

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  5. Gail:
    I always will.
    GM:
    I find it sad that those "unrequiteds" happen so frequently. Why is that I wonder? I've been on his side of the fence too.
    T:
    I honestly can't explain the hold that music has on me! Yes whatever we added to each other is what I keep out of it.
    Laurie:
    Well said, we really don't know what to do with them, I am very glad Paul and I didn't abandon "it".
    XO
    WWW

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  6. RIP Paul.

    Your stories are like onions.

    So many layers.

    Peel away, please.

    xo

    (PS Pix from the perch on the hill appreciated :)

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  7. Relationships like that are very strange, when the couple are constantly at loggerheads and seem to have very little genuine affection for each other. And the constant competition for your attention is bizarre. But how wonderful that you both shared that passionate enthusiasm that you couldn't share with anyone else.

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  8. Orla:
    Thanks! And Perch Post will follow!
    XO
    WWW

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  9. Nick:
    That's the thing, one never sees even the remotest affection between them, it is so hard to fathom what the draw is, though one time Paul said to me that the rocks in his head fit the holes in Nina's. Maybe that's it.
    XO
    WWW

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  10. That was superb, Mary. Wow, I'm so impressed. I makes me sigh from the bottom of my toes.

    Love that is not supposed to be. It is sad for both people, because you try to be friends, but somehow that doesn't work out either. He never stopped being in love with you and chose the indomitable Nina instead, the total opposite of you. That way he wasn't being unfaithful to you. It's a sad story and the ending is not good either. Thank goodness you didn't go down with the ship.

    Hugs,
    Irene

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  11. That story is about the real world. For that it's a wonderful lesson in love. There are so many manifestations of love. You have told it with simple, moving truth.

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  12. Irene:
    I don't think he would have made good old bones. some people are meant to leave us early. He was not happy. Your observations is extraordinarily keen. I think many people settle for what we call "BTNs" (better than nothings).
    thanks to you I have a better understanding of why he went that route. I believe it contributed to his death.
    XO
    WWW

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  13. It truly astonishes me too, Anne, how many facets there are to a love story. I'm currently writing an unusual one (novel) and it is revealing much to me of how love can expand far beyond the boundaries we can often set for it.
    XO
    WWW

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