23 June 2008

Wistful

Full of wist? Well, yes, though wist is now obsolete, and the meaning of wistful has morphed over time – from closely attentive to yearningly eager to musingly sad.

We went to the ballet the other night – to see New York City Ballet, and to sit, perhaps for the last time, in my mother’s seats. She’s had a subscription to City Ballet since they moved into the State Theater in the sixties, and for most of that time, she’s had the same seats – a pair in the third row of the center section of the first ring. In other words, she had great seats.

When she started going, she was still married to my father, so they’d go to the ballet together. She’d get dressed up and wear Youth Dew, and we kids stayed home with a babysitter. Later, after she was divorced, she’d take one of the kids, or go with a friend, but she always went. She knew the people in the seats around her; she knew all the repertory and all the dancers. She observed Edward Gorey holding court at intermission in his fur coats and sneakers and rings. And this spring season was the first time she hasn’t gone to any of the performances; she’d renewed the subscription back in the winter, before she started her decline.

So, my brother and his wife went to two of the four performances, my sister went to another, and W. and I went on Friday night. I looked around and recognized the man to our right, and Clive Barnes across the aisle. We saw Tom Gold’s penultimate performance and I saw Joaquin de Luz dance for the first time.

And I was wistful.

I thought back on how many times I’d sat in those same seats. And how many times I’d been to other performances in the same theater. I thought about the times that my mother took me out of school to attend a dress rehearsal - like the 1973 dress of Cortège Hongrois and the 1971 dress of Goldberg Variations. I remembered that my mother and I had been at the performance the night after Lincoln Kirstein died – when Peter Martins gave a little eulogy and everyone in the audience got a shot of vodka at intermission.

My husband said “why don’t you keep the subscription?” But it’s ferociously expensive, those tickets, and, it feels as though the moment has passed. That was her thing, her constant extravagance. But I don’t know. The renewal for the winter season hasn’t come in yet.

Maybe I’m wistful in the “yearningly eager” sense of the word, and not just “musingly sad”.

27 comments:

the dragonfly said...

What memories in two little seats...

Jenn @ Juggling Life said...

What great memories of your mom to have whether or not you continue the subscription.

Sober Briquette said...

incredible memories

I'm glad you have time to make your decision. Perhaps your siblings would split the cost?

needleinahaystack said...

how much? I bet I know people who would LOVE to split and might even cover part of your cost. don't give it up too soon.

flutter said...

I like yearningly eager

the mama bird diaries said...

Figure out a way to keep the seats. You can always give them up the following year. If you have any hesitancy, don't let them go.

Wonderful post.

RuthWells said...

Lovely. Here's another vote for keeping the seats, if you possibly can.

Her Grace said...

What beautiful memories your mom has given you. Whatever you decide to do with the seats, those memories will always be yours.

My mom has worn Youth Dew her whole life, it will always be the smell I associate with her.

kathy a. said...

such memories, and so many of them.

you will make the right decision, either way you choose. it has been loving to keep on the tradition by using her tickets this season, a tribute as well as a way to confirm those memories. but it will also be OK when you decide that this was her passion, and you have honored it, but it need not be continued in the same way.

julochka said...

i could really feel the true meaning of wistful. i think you should keep the seats. but on the other hand, time moves on and some things are better left in memory...

Furrow said...

I don't know what you should do, what I would do, but I love this post. Thanks for sharing those memories.

womaninawindow said...

If you can afford them (which I could not) keep the seats...even if only for a year or two. Once they're gone...

Am I the only one who has known NO ONE is this world?

susan said...

What a tender post, Magpie. Such beautiful memories of a mother opening up a kind of fascinating culture to a child--the fantasy, the spectacle, the grown-up-ness.

Eva said...

We have a similar thing with some tickets. But we don't know how long we'll have them so every year we go, and know it might be the last time.

ophelia rising said...

Wistful, indeed. And bittersweet. Life is just so...LIFE, isn't it?

Whatever you decide, you have such wonderful memories with her. Hold onto those, fiercely.

Mayberry said...

Such a tough decision, and so hard to make with any shred of objectivity or practicality.

Lady M said...

Wow, such memories. It'd be hard to give up those seats. Perhaps others in the family would be interested in sharing?

Angeline said...

These memories are like hidden treasures....glad that you shared them...

Anonymous said...

You write so beautifully. Yow wonderful to have had all these memories.

Cactus Petunia said...

What a wonderful legacy that is. Imagine if you could pass that down to the next generation!

wendell wentworth said...

Where's Tom Gold going? Thanks.

wendell wentworth said...

Nevermind. I see that he's retiring. I didn't realize he had been dancing that long.

Mad said...

I read this yesterday and it made me almost too wistful to comment. I remember that one of our very first exchanges out here was about Edward Gorey at the ballet. I hope you do keep the subscription but money is money. There's something in this post about the decline of the fine arts, though, that has me near tears.

painted maypole said...

oh.

there's a little bit of WISHful over here...

;)

Ozma said...

My life went by me like this recently. It's a strange sensation, isn't it?

Library Lady said...

I think it's something you should pass on to the next generation. Think about taking Miss M and passing on the stories of her grandmother.
This isn't just because I too (as you know)am a balletomane. My very beloved mother-in-law died very unexpectedly one month ago today. Making sure that Nanay lives on in my daughters' lives is something I feel more strongly about by the day.

Julia said...

Wistful, in every way.
Split the seats with your siblings, maybe?