Jazz is the most beautiful music art ever. It contains funk, musical-fun and the energy to dance and move your body to saxophone-tunes. Delicious for your ears and souls.
Yes, that was and is his name. And he thought I was trash.
Why should I care about his opinion anyway, when where had he been my whole life? is neither here-nor-there. Yes, at-the-end-of-the-search, the result wasn’t what Madam, nor I, I suppose, hoped for.
Four years ago, Madame sent me solo to New York. More specifically, to Brooklyn. She armed me, she thought, with the best in feminine wiles. No book learning necessary, Madame was a natural. Not a beauty, but very clever, she tried to pass those wiles on to me. So there was no cause for my failure, except my own ineptitude. I guess I’m not a quick-study.
But in my own defense, in the beginning of my adventure independence was my goal. And it became fun, thanks to some safe, but unusual living arrangements. Eventually, mutual jazz fans sought my friendship. Late nights, we, mixed group of guys and girls under-aged and eager, haunted the clubs, fake ID’s itching to be displayed. Crowded interiors dark, murky, filled with these riveting beats created this electrifying atmosphere. Some walls covered with famous faces. Duke, Miles, Dizzy, and Sarah Vaughan shadowed.
We partied. And I took up smoking. It made me feel grown. And, of course, I thought I was hot. Scouring Manhattan’s live jazz houses one after another I mixed and mingled among fashionable crowded clubs; rarely alone, and not ready for The Reunion—to be played out according to Madame’s explicit.
However, her constant monitoring by phone kept me persistent. Staring at each pianist, I secretly wondered: Seneca older? Listening for his name before or after solo spotlights or lingering after sets to eavesdrop, I thought: This won’t be too hard. For with his uncommon name Duprey, surely the hunt would be simple.
Right. There were others to contend with. ‘The Pitifuls.’ While each night the music rocked, the actual quest, because of these kids—“Pathetic Playboy Pretenders” term courtesy of my gal pals—rivaled the girl’s “bona-fide” bosom hunt. My girlfriend’s, “Those aren’t real,” comments about boobs were just as exhaustive as the boy’s sad one-liners. Unless drunk or insecure. . . . who cared about either?
But, I kept searching . . . for Seneca, of course. Seriously searching after reaching the age of legal. Last year to be exact. And I managed to do it alone. The way Madame ordered. I made headway, meeting a man fan current on Seneca trivia. He mentioned that over time this maestro played with many groups under a stage name—The Raven. So, in his somewhat secluded world there I was; I found him. Again, more Madame’s goal than mine, I attained it. But the finale cost me: Confidence, self-respect, and ironically the way back into Madame’s good graces. Over night. Back; well beyond square one.
Just a little over three weeks ago. It felt like infinity past; though, like I mentioned, earlier this week felt better.
Yes, then I actually tuned into sounds of normality, of life, outside my apartment. I mimicked the newborn raking in everything.
“Hey, girl! What about lunch?” replaced a vacuum’s constant hum.
“Sure. Meet me in the lobby in five.”
A door shut.
Four times within minutes the elevator bell dang. A heavy mechanical “whoosh”—separating doors—immediately followed. Then a young man’s, “Where’re you going?”
“For a run on the bridge. Wanna come?”
“You bet. Wait up.”
I remember muffled footsteps receded into opposite directions, one set running. Elevator doors clanged; the shrill of contented whistling faded; and then a clipped echo of another set of doors closing.
Yep. I guess those three long weeks cooped up recovering inside my apartment finally got to me; made me crazy. I coveted my neighbor’s and even their housekeeper’s preparations for the lunch hour. Their arrangements emphasized my lack of. My friends’ absence. But my friends’ constant, “What happened? Can’t you talk about it?” and repeated, “Come on girl, let’s go out; you’ll get over whatever it is,” only managed to divide us.
They should’ve sympathized with me—my silence. I wanted to forget. Couldn’t they recognize panic, my sudden fear of “hanging out?” Their decrease, then cease in calls and invites showed they didn’t.
So down to a trot, I tuned into about another ten minutes of activity. Then the corridor quieted. Ah, . . .but outdoors—ten stories above street level—more life. The slightly remote yet distinct sound of traffic. Ecstatic doggie-greetings yelped between pooches. Yes, the camaraderie of the dog walkers—that was mid-day in historic Brooklyn Heights, I thought. Those sounds floated up through the open French doors of my living room, until a high peal yanked my thoughts back inside.
Hopeful, I grabbed the cordless phone before the second strain ended—thanks to the freestanding-antiqued bookcase I bought second-hand. It doubled as extended half-wall between the hallway and living room.
“Hello, Ms. Duprey?” cut my response. The hurried male voice sounded like the attendant’s managing the hotel’s front desk, loud above the din of visitors touring the renovated lobby.
Breaking sweat not stride on the treadmill, holding the receiver away from my ear, I tried not to sound winded or disappointed when I answered, “Yes?”
“This is William from the front desk,” he said. “We have your mail and packages from the past few days. Also, an over-night delivery letter that just came in. A FedEx to be more precise. Would you like me to have them sent up?”
“Oh, yes! Would you please? That would be perfect, . . .William. Thanks so much; and I’m sorry. I meant to get my packages sooner;” I apologized; the noisy foyer prompting my, “A lot of visitors today, huh?”
Weren’t there always? The draw was an Italian Renaissance architectural style with marble columns and a beautiful display of colorful painted murals of Italian villas. It made me proud to live there, I remembered thinking until . . . . “Yes, quite a few,” brought me back.
“Ms. Duprey, I’m sorry I’ve got to go, but I’ll have the lobby attendant bring up your mail, all right? . . . .And enjoy your run.”
He noticed; I giggled, “Thank-you, William.”
After a lapse of almost a month, of course I was breathless. My standard five-mile run dwindled into a dismal one-mile trek, if that. So, I was glad to return to any degree of my old routine and self.
Before, my early morning ritual, before the sun’s resurgence, consisted first of self-renewal. I’d roll my treadmill from the hallway’s walk-in closet to its place in front of Lady Liberty. A large undraped window at the hall’s end provided the view. There, before her solid though kind of tiny presence I mostly stumbled out of the dawn into the day. After burning millions of brain cells and calories, I’d collapse into the curve of my comfy leather wing chair Kitty-cornered the hallway’s partially opened window. There, with a soft throw surrounding me I envisioned fabulous combinations for my home-based fashion business, enjoying a breeze or listening to a city awakening through the faint tinkle of distant wind chimes.
Pleasant memories, I remember thinking, stretching, to restore the phone to its cradle next to my philodendron graciously sharing its quarters. Yes, even she displayed her pleasure for my shot at normalcy. Joyous vertical leaves applauded recent efforts; I applauded her resilience—“You go girl!” believing plants needed encouragement too.
Okay it was true that the sun’s brilliance—dispensed through the apartment’s tall arched windows bouncing off textured cream walls—deserved the greatest commendation for the plant’s rebirth. Also, cream sheers under striped multi-color silk drapes, finally reopened, accepted curtain calls for diffusing intense light.
But hey! Recent watering and pruning counted for something. They merited at least an honorable mention. Especially after an enforced emotional sabbatical. That confrontational crash left me in a tailspin confused and afraid to navigate my life.
Blackie for black-ice. Yes that, not Seneca or The Raven, should be his name.
Cause who would have thought that he could floor me?