Music: A World of Its Own

Some days, all I want to do is disappear. I want to go to a place where nothing can hurt me, no one can interrupt me, and where I’m lost. Lost in a world of black and white; a world that only I can bring color to with a simple touch of hair to steel. One where I can feel the power pouring from my fingertips guiding them through fluid motions up and down the sleek neck of my violin.

This world is not hard for me to get to. It’s there, right within reach, just underneath my bed. Slipping my hand into the semi-darkness, I grip the handle and drag out my portkey. In the bed of red velvet lies my violin—mine since I was twelve years old. It shines and glimmers in the sun pouring through the window and I ache to hold it. Carefully, I pick it up and caress its smooth, cool skin. Placing it on my shoulder and nestling it underneath my chin, I reach for the bow. Two become one as the bow glides across the strings. The first note emerges and I am quickly lost in the world of music.

Playing from memory, I close my eyes and fully become immersed in the emotions of the song. I feel each note as it’s played and emerges from the violin, and my entire body will be poured into the song as I make sense of the black dots in my mind. As I go deeper into this world, I soon forget the one I am in. Slowly, I return to earth as the last note fades away. The room is silent, but my heart no longer is. It is alive. Music touches me in a way nothing else can. It is as if the notes are the only way my heart can truly speak.


I’m Stuck

I feel unsocial. Like a wallflower. An introvert. Watching my team take us to the championships as I sit on the bench. Outside, I am calm and collected, but inside, I am screaming. I want to join in, but I can’t. I am suffering. Suffering from Writer’s Block.

Writing prompts are there to get the juices flowing, to get the gears moving to get you to write. I, however, am stuck in the mud. Unable to gain any traction, my wheels are spinning. It’s frustrating. I want to write and join in with everyone, but I feel stuck behind a glass wall. I’m able to see everything going on through the glass, but am unable to get the full experience.

Should I force myself to write something, anything? Or should I wait until one of the prompts finally hits me and inspires something? Or, perhaps, maybe I was prompted. Prompted to write about how I couldn’t write. So, in a roundabout way, am I out of the rut?

Experiencing the Western Wall

I typed this up while I was staying in Jerusalem last week, and am just now getting around to posting it.

Our tour group wound its way through the narrow, stone streets of Jerusalem. At every turn, I craned my neck hoping to be the first to catch a glimpse of the ancient wall that is the only remainder of the Second Temple. Suddenly, we entered a doorway, and there it was–The Western Wall–exactly as I had seen it in pictures. The wall loomed above the people praying at its base. They each swayed to their own rhythm; the men wrapped in their white tallits and the women burying their faces in their siddurs.

We walked closer and separated: men to the left side and women to the right. I was shocked at the wave of emotion that hit me as I walked closer to the Wall. I am not an openly emotional person, and so I separated myself from the group in an effort to conceal the tears.

All around me, women were praying, some silently, some loudly sobbing. I rolled the note I had written as I inched closer to the wall. Picking at a corner of the paper, I waited for an opening. The girl in front of me backed away from the wall, and I slid into her spot. The cracks in the wall were packed with folded bits of papers covered in the prayers of the countless women who had come before me. I poked and prodded my note until it stayed where I had placed it.

Laying my hand against the ancient stones, I was shocked at its coldness. It’s coolness was a welcome relief to the day’s heat, and I rested my head upon them as I prayed. Oblivious to those around me, I was only focused on my prayers that I was saying at the base of where the temple once stood. As I finished, I backed away and my spot was quickly filled in like wet sand.

Being careful not to turn my back, I walked backwards gazing at the looming tan stones. I was in awe that I had just prayed at the very site that every Jew in the world hopes to one day visit. This experience will stay with me for days to come. And the saying shana haba b’yerushalayim–next year in Jerusalem–has an entirely new meaning for me. Because this year, I was there. I made it.


Music Transforms

The old music hall, dark and abandoned for decades, was a sad replica of what it was once was. The seats, before a deep red, were now a dull blush. The stuffing billowed onto the dusty floor where the velvet coverings had been torn. The floorboards, faded and coated in layer upon layer of gray dust, were littered with the yellowed bits of music scores that once soared through the rows up to its vaulted ceiling. The only item that remained intact was a grand piano on the far right side of the stage.

The stillness was broken by the clicking of heels on the worn wood. A young man stopped in the doorway of the great room. His green eyes skimmed across the floor, up the graffitied walls, over to the broken window that was boarded over, and finally came to rest on the dilapidated piano. He took a few steps, hesitated, and glanced behind him. Making his decision, he strode towards the piano.

Standing in front of it, he gingerly reached forward and stroked its lid with his finger leaving a dark, dust-free line in it’s wake. As he rubbed his thumb and forefinger together–feeling the grittiness of the dust on his skin–he circled the piano. It was old, that’s for sure, but nothing seemed broken or out of place. Not even bothering to clean off the stool, he sat down and silently glided his fingers over the gray keys.

Slowly, softly he pressed down. The note was crisp and brought a slight smile to the man’s face. One key, then two, were quickly followed by an entire chord. His hands flew effortlessly over the keys as the time-worn piano sang beneath his gentle touch.

As the song progressed and grew in strength, the keys became a pure white and the grime disappeared from the entire piano. It’s pristine appearance stood out starkly against the dank appearance of the rest of the hall.

The notes were thundering from the piano now, and the man was lost in the world he was creating. As the music swirled from the piano, it created a wind that blew the dust away from that corner of the hall. Blasted by strength of the music that was being created, the dust and cobwebs were forced out of the hall.

Soon, it looked unrecognizable. The vaulted ceiling’s exquisite paintings were refreshed, the once faded and torn seats were bright and plush, and the floor shone in the sun the poured through the window. The man’s grin spread across his entire face as he looked out across his masterpiece.

All too soon, however, the last note died and faded away, taking with it all the glory it had returned to the hall. The man removed his hands from the keys and folded them in his lap as he sighed contentedly. The playing of the piano had returned the hall to its former glory for just a moment. For that is the power of music: the ability to reveal the beauty in any thing, any place, or anyone.

Sleepless in the Middle of the Atlantic

Sleep. We all need it for our bodies to function healthily, but lately, I find myself running on fewer and fewer hours of it. As of now, I’ve had 2 hours of shut-eye in the last 32 hours. I have a good reason this time though, for I’m currently writing this en route to Israel!

My family–Mom, Dad, and sister–and I are on an El Al flight from Newark, NJ to Tel Aviv, Israel. The ten hour flight is currently halfway over as we glide somewhere above the Atlantic. I’ve tried to sleep, but it’s difficult between the dim lighting, people chattering, and turbulence bouncing you awake. Normally, I can fall asleep anywhere, no matter the surroundings. Maybe it’s the caffeine still rushing through my veins, or the adrenaline of the week-long adventure ahead of me, but I’m wide awake.

Since my body is refusing to rest, I’m thinking about all the months that were spent talking and planning for this. I still can’t believe it’s really happening! Maybe, once I step outside onto the soil of the Jewish homeland, it will finally sink in.

I have no clue what to expect of this trip, and I have no expectations. I’m in it for the adventure and the experience of setting foot in the Land. Hopefully the energy of the place will keep this sleep-deprived body functioning through the first day of our tour!

All This to Say “Happy Birthday”

We all need a best friend. Whether it is a parent, a sibling, a significant other, or someone totally unrelated to us, there is nothing like having someone we can fully rely on. A best friend is someone we can disclose our true selves to—without having to worry what they will think of us. We can share our darkest secrets, sharpest pains, and also our joys. It’s someone we can act silly with, but also share deep, serious moments. Best friends are so closely tied that a single look can convey an entire thought—usually resulting in uncontrollable laughter. Even if we haven’t talked to our best friend in ages, we can always pick up right where we left off.

This post is in honor of my best friend of 12 years. Today, she turns twenty—the big 2-0. Even though we’ve lived 5 hours apart for the past 10 years, we haven’t let that deter us. Numerous phone calls, texts, tweets, letters, Facebook posts, and Snapchats—all of which probably number in the thousands—have allowed us to remain within reach. We’ve had arguments, shared innumerable laughs, and moments of sadness. We’ve challenged, supported, and inspired each other. I’ve seen her grow up from a young girl addicted to horses and Oreos, to a beautiful young woman who moved across the country to pursue her passion of ballet—while still addicted to Oreos. Granted, we both got into our fair share of trouble along the way, but there isn’t a single moment I would ever want to replace.

Emma, I love you and miss you. Your vibrancy and attitude of living life to the fullest is rare. Hold onto it; never let it go. If you want something, go for it. Don’t let anyone tell you that you can’t do something. Make mistakes and learn from them. You are your own person on your own path; take the detours, stop and enjoy the flowers along the way, and above all, continue being amazingly, wonderfully, and uniquely YOU. All in all, I want to wish you a very happy 20th birthday. It’s only going to happen once, so enjoy it!

The Coldest Winter

It seems I have a recurring theme lately: snow. Perhaps it’s because that’s all I’ve seen since November! Here in Michigan, we’re about 3 inches away from the snowiest winter on record. After a taste of 50 degrees a few days ago, I’m so over the latest 7 inches of snow we got today. I just keep reminding myself that it will be summer eventually! In the meantime, I hope you enjoy my latest.

The Coldest Winter

Arms folded and brows furrowed, the young woman stared at the shimmering, snow-covered field in front of her. Breaking through the clouds, the sun’s rays kissed her hair. Lost in her memories, she was oblivious to the strands that blew across her face. The wind, as if attempting to bring her back to earth, howled and grew stronger. Much like the thoughts gathering in her heart, the clouds quickly accumulated and blocked out the brightness of the sun. As the frigid air seeped through her jacket, she shuddered and pulled the wool fabric closer to her slender body, and she tucked her red, chapped hands under her arms to shield them from the cold. Despite the low temperatures and biting wind that were adding to her misery, she wasn’t quite ready to turn away and go back inside.

Remembering the last time she had been in that field, she squeezed her eyes shut; a single tear crept through the dark lashes curled against her white skin. The tear slid down her cheek, glistened on the end of her chin, and remained suspended. Transported back in time, her cold lips turned up slightly and the furrowed brows slowly relaxed. It was fall—harvest time in that small town—and the blue skies contrasted sharply with the brown soybean fields. Sitting in the tractor as he harvested the plants that were tended so carefully over the summer, she didn’t have a care in the world. As they drove in straight lines across the field, they shouted to each other over the rhythmic hum of the large machine sharing stories, jokes, and dreams. Slowly drawing in a breath, she tried to recall the warm, earthy smell that always surrounded that man. Instead, she gasped as the frozen air entered her lungs and jolted her back to reality.

Bending down and scooping up the pure, white snow, she let it slide through her open hands. It fell through quickly, much like the short time they had spent together, but a few snowflakes remained stuck to her palms. However, the small bit of warmth in her hands soon melted the flakes and left tiny puddles on her skin. The snowflakes were gone; their intricate beauty now only memories. She wiped her hands down the front of her jacket and realized the time they had spent together was nothing more than those snowflakes: mere memories.

She needed to get a grip on herself and let him go. She was, after all, the one who had walked away from him in the first place. She knew it never would have worked between them anyway, and a small cloud escaped her lips as she sighed and turned her back to the field. Setting her gaze on the horizon, she straightened her shoulders and smoothed her windswept hair. The first few steps were timid, but each one grew in strength and purpose as she refused to stay frozen in her memories. Even the coldest winter must come to an end—melting away to spring and the reawakening of the world.