History is smelly.
When I teach about history, I always try to get across how different our relationship to the physical world is nowadays, and that is definitely one of the differences. I was reminded of it last night, at the first meeting of the community chorus.
It was the end of an August workday here in the subtropical south, and we were stuffed like sardines into a small closed room. The evening began with a lot of squealing and hugging and we warmed up and then we sang Hoiby’s Psalm 92. Very nice piece. One of my favorite psalms. It began, by the end of that piece, to seem as though we were in a gym, and people were fanning themselves quite a bit.
We moved on to Giovanni Gabrieli’s In Ecclesiis, a piece in which it is a bit of a challenge to find the correct line on the music, as there are sometimes two parts and sometimes eight, plus whole crowds of brass and organ. The heat rising off the sweaty people was palpable, and the director told us about cori spezzano and how it developed from the architecture of San Marco in Venice.
We listened to a recording of the Gabrieli, sung if not at St. Mark’s, then in some other building of the kind that seems to be taking a descant of its own, and I thought about what it would have been like in 1615, crowded into a choir of people who neither bathed regularly nor washed their clothes. And yet the music would have been just as transcendent.
By the time we got to the new Rutter Winchester Te Deum, we were getting a bit shaky on our reading. I think that it was at least in part the result of the miasma we were standing in.
Those who know about my little mental disorder may have been wondering whether I drove by myself at night, and the answer is that I did, and I didn’t even suffer over it, so I guess I have in fact Overcome Agoraphobia to a significant degree.
I did have some trouble finding my car, or rather my husband’s car, since he has still not released my car for duty. I had carefully noted down the number of my space in the parking structure —
And when I say “noted down,” I mean it literally. I have trouble recognizing my husband’s car. He has one of those keys that unlocks the doors by remote control, and I sometimes have to creep around the parking lot, furtively clicking the key at all the champagne-colored Japanese cars until one responds.
Anyway, I knew the number of my space, but couldn’t figure out which floor it might be on. It would be dull to number the spaces on the third floor with numbers beginning with 3, wouldn’t it? A kind couple — a first alto and a bass, as it happened — drove me around till we found it.
I even rather enjoyed driving home under the enormous yellow moon.