angel variations...These are all pictures of my beautiful wife. And this is a brief synopsis of how we met & what she did for me during some hard times in my life.
I tend not to write things for people that I love. It puts too much pressure on me. And on them. If they don't like it, then I feel like I have somehow let them down. It's a lot of pressure for me because it makes me feel like I have not included everything. If I could write about just one thing about them, it'd be okay. But there's a sense in which I am like Mahler when he said that a symphony should contain everything. It should contain the world. (Let me be absolutely clear....that is the ONLY way in which I am like Mahler. Only in that attitude about writing for a particular person. Comparing yself to Mahler is ridiculously presumptuous.)
I was in a very dark place when I met Angel. I had moved out of my home. I had actually lived in 5 places in my town in 7 years up to that point...moving from apartment to apartment. I almost burned one of them down. (See The Black Room.) At this point, I have lived in 8 different places in the 15 years I have lived in this town. I am never moving again....
My marriage had (in retrospect) fallen apart by 2008. At the time I thought it was salvageable. And I tried deperately to salvage it. It had happened before. My moving out. My now ex-wife accused me of a heinous thing the first time I movd out. I tried to salvage the marriage then, but i should have seen the writing on the wall. I guess in a sense I had seen it much, much earlier. (See Cassandra Complex.) But by 2007, I had moved out for the last time. I was a pretty lousy husband and my ex was a pretty lousy wife. We had two fantastic kids together and we did that wonderful thing. We had some good times together and I have a lot of fond memories of my marriage to her, but it was over by the time I met Angel. I kept trying to salvage it, but I was banging my head against a wall.
I was in an extremly dark place. I was trying to salvage a marriage that was broken beyond repair. In fact, Angel tried to help me do that. She helped me through some extremely dark times. I had been in therapy for years (since the accusation by my ex - I even took a lie detector test to prove to her that the allegations were untrue. Lie detector tests suck, by the way), but I finally decided to see a psychiatrist to find out if I needed to be medicated. In retrospect, it's funny. I just called up the best psychiatrist in the state and asked if she had any appointments available. No referral. No nothing. Just picked up the phone and called. It turns out that being medicated and seeing this new psychiatrist changed my whole life. I continued to see my talk therapist, too, until she died. All of this was going on at the time I met Angel.
I remember as clear as day the first time I laid eyes on her. I was at the YMCA walking on the treadmill & she was with a friend working out on the eliptical machines. I couldn't take my eyes off of her. She told me later that she couldn't take her eyes off of me, either, but I never really made eye contact with her. I was extremely nervous. She was wearing a baseball cap with her hair in a pony tail sticking out the back of the cap.
There is a Mexican restaraunt here in town called Jalisco. It used to be El Jalisco. I have no idea why it changed. The kids at my college call it "el hell" to this day. They run a nice, family business, but it's pretty run down. It's been there for years. That's where I met her. She had been going there for 20 years or so. She knew the family and is almost a part of that family. I have sort of joined that family now, too, by this point. It's like Cheers. Everybody knows your name.
I would see her there and just stare at her. She would stare back, but everytime she looked up at me (I am sure she could sense that I was staring at her), I would avert my eyes. I was extremely nervous. She made me nervous. I thought she was just the most beautiful thing I had ever seen. I am convinced that she thought I was a creepy dude just staring at her all the time, but eventually we both started ending up there for lunch almost every day. Just to look at each other. Mind you, I was still trying to salvage my marriage. I was convinced I could, but I had seen Angel and that really changed my life.
So she would bring a friend to lunch and I would bring a friend to lunch. I used to scramble to find someone to go to lunch with me just so I could see her. She told me later that she had been doing the same thing. I never worked up the nerve to talk to her. To be honest, it sort of felt like cheating since I was still trying to work things out with my now ex-wife. But eventually, I did. Sort of. She has naturally curly hair, but she more often than not straightens it. (I wish she wouldn't. She looks so beautiful when she just lets it go naturally.) I almost worked up the nerve to go talk to her to tell her I liked her new hairstyle when I first saw her with curly hair, but I didn't. Much too nervous.
I had an iPhone 3g & I noticed that her friend had a 3gS (which was brand new at the time). So I came over to their table to say hello and talk to her. I immediately started talking to her friend about her phone and couldn't bring myself to look at Angel. She was just too beautiful to look at. I explained to her friend that I needed to replace my 3g becuase my cat had spilled whiskey on it. Angel said, "you need to stop letting your cat drink whiskey". Those were the fist words she said to me. Funny.
I didn't really talk to her again for a while. I had been playing racquetball at the Y with one of my friend's husband. (He always won.) One day I saw her at the entry counter to the Y and walked by to head to the locker room to change. I got to the locker room and decided I had to go back to talk to her. So I pretended that I had forgotten my racquet and came back out to go to the car to get it. When I came back in, I said something really dumb like, "I'd lose my head if it wasn't attached". Something stupid like that. She didn't really reply. I didn't really give her a chance to. I was nervous and just sort of kept walking. She laughed, though.
Eventually, we were at the Mexican restaruant and another of her friends told her she had to give her number to me. I was with a friend when I saw her reach into her purse to get paper and a pen. I told him that I knew she was writing down her number & I was right. I made sure that we went to the register at the same time she and her friend did. (My friend was an extremely good sport about it all.) We all paid & left the restaraunt. We somehow started talking about things. Angel asked me (I am pretty sure it was a Thursday) what I had planned for the weekend. I told her I thought it was going to rain so I probably wasn't going to do anything. Such an idiot....For some reason, in spite all of my idiocy, she gave me her number. I didn't have the "how long should I wait to call her" problem. I had called her by the end of the day. We went out that night to a bar that the college kids hung out at called the Study Club & talked for hours. I still have scars on my elbows from where I was leaning over the table resting my weight on my elbows just listening to her and staring at her.
So that's the context of how we met. We used to talk on the phone for hours. I'd sit on my back-stoop and drink Jack & Gingers and she'd try to get her kids to bed. This was back in the days where talking after 9pm was free, but your minutes counted against you before that. We never once thought to hang up at 9 and call each other back, so there were some outrageous phone bills.
At the time, I was living in one of the college's apartments. It's exclusively student housing now, but at the time faculty & staff could live there as well. I lived in 4 of those units over the course of 5 years. When I met Angel, I was living in a unit on the corner by the exit to the complex. We called it "the bat-cave" & I have some of the fondest memories of my life from those times.
When I wrote this I was using software that no longer runs on my Mac. At least not the version I have. I can't afford to upgrade, unfotunately. I was also still using external synths (primarily a Kurzweil K2500R). I had a lot of "gear" at the time, but I sold pretty much all of it & went the internal software synth route. Now everything is "inside" the computer. It's easier to deal with, but when I wrote this, I didn't think ahead enough to bounce the synth tracks down to audio tracks. So the Logic project is essentially useless.
One of the things I like about this piece is that it fits a lot of different forms. I think, for me, that's where the variations come in. Of course, there is something of a theme that that returns, but the variations have less to do with that theme than they should to be called a theme and variations form. So I fudged it. I was really thinking of the variations in how she made me feel rather than "variations" in the sense of a form. A colleague of mine said her heard it in sonata form. I could go along with that. Makes as much sense as anything else. It'd be interesting to write a follow-up piece to this one. A "second movement", so to speak, now that I've known her so much longer and she has become my wife. She still slays me....