Dancing in my Stormy Sea

May 21, 2010
By , Holland, MI
I lean in and kiss the neck of my cello. There is a spot where the finish had rubbed off from eight years of this nervous habit “We can do this.” I think. Waiting outside the big metal doors is torture that turns my butterflies carnivorous.

“Miss Hawkins?” A polite sandy haired woman asks, poking her head through the metal doorway. “We’re ready for you.” She slips back inside.

I take a deep breath and step into the room. My footsteps echo loudly on the hardwood stage. A single chair waits for me, in front of an unforgiving panel of three judges. Behind them are rows and rows of auditorium seating. All of the seats were empty.

“You may begin whenever you’re ready.” One judge nods his bald head toward the chair. His half-rimmed glasses bounce on his big nose.

After a few more deep breaths I begin to play the pieces I’ve spent hundreds of hours practicing. First, I play the first and second movements of Shostakovich concerto No. 1, then the prelude to Bach’s first suite and the sarabande from the fourth, Boccherini Sonata L’Imperatrice, a short Lutoslawski piece, Chopin/Popper Nocturne No. 2 in E flat major, and Julius Klengel’s Op. 4 cello concerto No. 1 in A minor.

Playing the cello has always been the only time I can clear my head. The only time I can just focus on what’s important. All the stress and worry of everyday life seem to walk away without hesitation. But at that audition, it was more than that. I felt like my fingers were dancers, franticly pounding their feet, fast and happy, to a piece of music they’d heard a thousand times but never danced to. My bow was a ship, sailing stormy seas, bouncing urgently for the safety of land. That audition was a true reflection of my mindset. All my hopes and dreams were concentrated into the ship and the dancers; my only chance to solidify my biggest dream, an acceptance letter from The Juilliard School.

It was the best I’d ever played and I hoped it was good enough. When I was finished, I stood, bowed, and walked toward the door. Just as I was about to leave, the judge on the far left called my name, “Miss Hawkins?”

I turned to face him “Yes?”

“It says here you’re a current student at MIT, is that true?”

I furrowed my brow “Yes,”

“If you’re looking for an easier curriculum, you aren’t going to find it at Juilliard.”

I chuckled and shook my head “I know, I’m looking for the passion I haven’t found for science.”

He didn’t say anything after that, so I just left.

It was a four and a half hour drive back to MIT from New York City. I drove home with my cello in the passenger’s seat, the only place in my old VW jetta it would fit.

The drive reminded me of the first time I’d driven it. When I was accepted into MIT, my parents were thrilled; they wouldn’t even let me apply to any other schools, not even Julliard Thoughts of attending Juilliard still followed me like a shadow though. I applied during my first semester at MIT. You would think it was because I had bad grades or something of the sort, but really, I had a 3.5 GPA and didn’t care, I missed my cello.

One day after my audition, I walked out of a lecture hall and watched everyone leave. Their frazzled or very serious faces ignoring everyone else completely. As I watched, I realized I didn’t want to be there, I wasn’t like those people; this school was their life and was only my second choice, my backup plan. I realized that I didn’t care what I was giving up for Juilliard; I didn’t care if I graduated from this school or even attended another day of class. That’s when I realized my heart wasn’t in that lecture hall, it was in my cello, no, it was my cello, just waiting to be a dance floor and the stormy sea, but this realization made the wait for the letter that much more agonizing.

That day I got my mail in April; I’d almost given up hope. I climbed up the stairs to my dorm room without sorting through it. I unlocked the door, kicked off my shoes, threw my backpack into the corner, and plunked down on my puffy quilt with the stack of mail.

I mumbled as I sorted it “junk... junk... parents...” My eyes widened in excitement as I came across The Juilliard School in the return address. I tore open the envelope as fast as I could.
Dear Anne,

It is our pleasure to inform you that you have been accepted into the music program at The Juilliard School...

I scanned the rest of the letter and found only one other important part

We would also like to inform you that your first four years’ tuition will be covered by the a new scholarship for cello studies...

I felt tears of joy run down my face. An invisible tension had just released, leaving me with only the feeling that nothing else mattered anymore. And suddenly, September felt a lot longer than five months away.

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This article has 3 comments. Post your own now!

LastChapter said...
Dec. 16, 2010 at 5:51 pm
the first paragraph was a wonderful hook, but in a whole, this story was beautiful. it gripped my attention with its raw passion and relatable doubts. the way you described her love for the cello made me feel like i myself was in love. it was wonderfully written. the only thing was the last line, when she says how 5 months seems so much longer, now that she has her dreams all set and waiting for her. i understand it, and it was a good line and all, but not for the last line, you know? whe... (more »)
noname37014 This work has been published in the Teen Ink monthly print magazine. replied...
Dec. 20, 2010 at 1:01 pm
I completely agree with you about the last line, I wrote this a while ago and looking back at it, it's not one of the pieces I'm most proud of, but I'm still glad I wrote it.
LastChapter replied...
Dec. 20, 2010 at 2:57 pm
nonono! you should be proud of this piece! hey, any time you look back at your writing and there isn't something you want to change, you either aren't looking hard enough or there's something wrong with your editing eye. nothing is ever perfect, but this is definitely a piece worth editing.
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