I was looking out the window that summer afternoon. It was as if the pine tree needles were beckoning me to join in their impromptu dances as they played hide and seek in the misty fog that enveloped the trees. A surreal stillness surrounded me as I sat in the hotel lobby, waiting for the cab that would take me to the music camp site. I had flown for sixteen hours from China to attend a music camp in Michigan for three weeks. Excited more than I was nervous, I felt ready for new encounters.
A week passed like a breeze, and my cello notes were becoming sweeter. I had taken a break from classes to go down to the school shop with another Chinese friend. As I picked out my newfound favorite American candy bar, I noticed my friend chatting with another Chinese girl. I soon joined in the conversation with natural ease, and discovered that we were the only other Asians at the camp. It felt like our friendship was formed for good.
My encounters continued through the music I made. At the orchestra rehearsals, I joined in maneuvering the flight of Stravinsky’s Firebirds. The pilot in charge was my private instructor, a chubby man with extremely poor eyesight. People say that when one of the senses is lost, another one compensates by becoming keener. I am convinced that this was the case with my teacher, as he was a genius at detecting the slightest off-key note. With his soft voice and gentle manners, Mr. Lastrapes coaxed my tightened arms to relax, thereby allowing me to release notes that I could never create before. We continued to have two hours of orchestra rehearsals every day in a hall so spacious it could hold a capacity of 4,000. What we had instead was an audience of ducks and geese outside that swam so freely and happily to our melody.
All things, good or bad, must come to an end, however. I was looking out the airport window, thinking back at the heartfelt moment of farewell with my friend at the camp gates. We had promised to meet again, already knowing that it would be unlikely. She was returning to Kentucky, and I, to China. The cello strings were not long or tight enough to keep us connected. As I waited to board the plane, I heard the cacophonous announcement that my flight was being delayed by an hour. I hadn’t noticed till that moment that the hanging fog outside the window had the same color as the view I had seen out the hotel window three weeks earlier. This time, however, my heart was heavy; I was already missing my friend. As I sat mired in melancholia, a figure appeared before my eyes -- it was my friend with whom I had parted earlier. We hugged each other without words. She then told me that her flight had been delayed as well, hence our unexpected reunion.
A second encounter had been granted us, thanks to the whims of nature.