Rhapsody

Of course it is true, so true that a person or persons can be in multiple times and places.

At once.

And again.


It was announced earlier today that Rachmaninov’s Rhapsody on a Theme of Paganini would be played on the radio this evening. To me, evening is an utterly pleasant time of the day, but I believe it ends by 8 p.m. speaking generally. After evening it is night. And night is when I finally stopped working (it is all child’s play really) and came home. With gratitude for many days of delightful music–some of it so dramatic and much of it so romantic– and many hours on each of those days filled with productive labor,

[Oh, I just remembered getting my first letter to Santa the other day. It was in a mailbox with the red flag raised by a child’s hand. I know the child’s name, of course, but I shouldn’t tell.]

I walked in and was fairly settled barely in time to hear the Rhapsody begin.

I am now a graduate of high school and a man from church has asked me to clean his house. Years later he would call me and ask me if I wanted to be the youth pastor at a church where he was an elder, and a year after that his three sons would be part of the youth group where I was indeed the youth pastor. Many years later two of the sons and I would go camping together, and many many many years later one of the sons would contact me through WaughPaper, a blog that I would someday begin, and a little over a year later I would write on that blog about being in more than one time and place. At once. Again. Shared times, really, and shared places, really. 

I have agreed to clean the house because they are a dear family, and because the man is paying me well, and it is summer anyway. He wants me to do some painting too, to ensure that the rent house is better than they found it since they are moving to another town where the man will manage a paper mill. The town smells bad, if you do not know what the source is, and it smells okay or good if you live there or derive your wage from the mill or if you consider it the scent of commerce and a necessry step in producing paper, upon which people write letters and books and poetry. Or eviction notices, I suppose, but you get the idea. Even now, you get the idea, although it is the summer of 1977 and I am in an empty rent house cleaning and painting.

The man has paid me in advance (with extra to purchase paint and some cleaning supplies) and that has produced in me this feeling of obligation to go beyond good enough. I do not skimp on paint quality and I want to leave the house immaculate, so I am taking time and much care. I am setting my own hours, so they are early while it is still cool and there is a slight breeze coming through the windows into the now-vacant house. I have brought everything with me this first day and will leave it in the house until I am done. I think it will take perhaps three days to do a really fine job, and in the future I could take pictures with my phone and text them to the man so that he would know he had received honest labor for his generous wage, but instead I just make a vow to finish it and then tell him.

One of the items I have brought with me is a cassete player, so I put it against the long wall in what used to be the living room and I press play and begin to clean. I will clean first, and then paint, and then clean again. The music begins and I am using a cotton rag to wipe every surface of the entire house. Rachmaninov’s Rhapsody on a Theme of Paganini washes over me as I spray and wipe, spray and wipe . . . 

I am there now, listening and was there then as I listened this night, and I am already elsewhere and in another time–but it is now–still listening, still awash.

Honest labor for a most-generous wage because the man has entrusted me with a few things to do for him.

And now I am doing the painting, covering the walls of the house in WaughPaper. I pause and turn the cassete over to the flip side and then get back to work.

It is/was/ever will be Sergei’s Piano Concerto No. 2 in C Minor.


Shabbat Shalom . . .


Photograph “Glistening Grace” © 2018 Timothy Waugh

2 thoughts on “Rhapsody

  1. We shared many good times. Youth trips in the old van. Lots of photography. Calling your baby girl “Tricky kid”. I fondly remember hanging out with you guys at your place. Your old Sentra (which we bought) is the car that I drove to learn a standard transmission. I remember your blue Civic – and listening to Steely Dan with you and learning to love Jazz. Yesterday.

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