one degree removed
it is a bright day today here in chinley. thanks to the hailstone-rain of yesterday, all the water in the air seems to have drained downward, through the soggy spongy earth, leaving the sky blinding bright. here at the green pasture basket, the bedroom has been recently painted to a pale yellow and it is quite a joy to see the sunlight peeking behind from the curtains. especially when a sunny morning is not a guarantee but a luxury.
it has been quite busy. it seems amazing- it ought to be impossible really, as i am not legal to work here, period. however, like all blank calendars, it somehow filled itself right up to the rim. it is difficult to note all things of amusement, but the most recent events were a birthday party and joe satriani concert @ manchester. and they happened to fall on the same day (how does it always happen so?) since it was a big-number birthday of a particular oboist friend, it entailed numerous things- especially concerning logistics and food choices etc. when one plays in a big band, like an orchestra, i think it becomes really difficult to make a small list of people. where do you draw the line? (now it sounds like a wedding show) so due to company size, it was moved to the local pub. and this pub being very british, it doesnt really utilize the kitchen, hence, things had to be room-temperature. and ooh yeah. all ages too- sunday afternoon, which means tons of itty kiddies who may have all kinds of preferences. thought it really isnt a big deal ('serve what you would serve at home when someone drops by in sunday mid-afternoon!'), it was fun to be involved in various musing stages. anyways, it was a good party- though we had to buzz off to pick up fish offspring no. 2 to attend joe satriani show. so a full day.
inevitably, sunday was full of people i never met. even most of the people i knew arent really my friends yet- a polite acquaintances, really. just another slice of walking into someone else's life, i suppose. as often as it happens, still, being the slight outsider is a difficult position. especially if you consider mr fish is an orchestral player by dayjob- unlike bank jobs, being in an orchestra (and he's been in the same one for decades i suppose) is much more personal, i believe. attuned to one another, one gets to know others in more details possible in other occupations. these people have been known one another for ages, tours together and often commutes together. and another recent experience was to tag along to mr fish's naughty fusion band school workshop. similar things here- the band members may not know the details of one anothers' daily lives, however, to play 'tight,' there's always a great deal of personal understanding.
mr fish's offspring no. 2's birthday was also similar. all families gathered together, who have known him pretty much since he was in nappies, with very few exceptions- late comers, the slight outsiders, like me, who is getting to know him a bit, but yet far from being an intimate friend. even here in chinley, i bet i could walk for miles and miles and not run into another asian, nevermind another korean. in manchester, i would have much better luck (though it's nothing like back in yyz, where the immigrants have overtaken the previous anglo-saxon culture. i think the wealth in yyz is still held firmly by the old white families- old monies anyways, but the culture definitely reflects fusion elements)
unlike a festival or a school semester, where a large percent of the population leaves one's own context (if not all), being integrated usually involves a big long phase of being a passive outsider. i remember being a social outcast when i first moved to canada- somewhat terrifying and difficult to be uprooted. and though i now speak the language and have grown a bit more since then, it is quite challenging still- to grow some roots. but the additional problem is that i move around so much anyways, that it has been impossible to be grounded. like a cutting of a plant, being changed from a cup to another on regular basis. so here, most of the time, i am stuck at the polite company level through association. wherever i go, it's pretty much explained (previously or presently) that i am with company of mr fish. i dont mind that really. that's not the challenge.
last night, mr fish had a jazz gig. i usually tag along and sit a the back during the gig. i know the players and i do exchange short greetings and such. but it being somewhat of old boys' network of gigging, during the break between the sets, people- including the audiences, usually follow their social protocol. catching up. buying pints. whatever it is. then occasionally i am conversed to, usually along the line of: are you here to see (mr fish)? suppose it is obvious, as i sit by the fiddle case. then often they make remarks, usually friendly ones. things like: oh, he's a wonderful player, isnt he- he's got a nice sound, etc.
then sometimes a bit more interesting ones:
old man: are you with the fiddler?
monkey: ay sir.
om: are you a jazz musician as well?
monkey: ah, no sir.
om: i bet, like me, you would love to be able to play an instrument like he does!
monkey: ha ha-
om: he's special than all of us, what a nice player. well, good night.
i understand that he was just complimenting my company. but at the same time, it did bite a bit, another reminder that im just an outsider. that no one really knows who i am nor they care (but seriously, why should they?) but last night, i couldnt help but to think: but i do play alright, if not jazz, though i really know for sure that you dont really care, old man!
i didnt study for a long time so that i would have a title. i dont expect people to love me instantaneously. or even to notice me at all. in such context, im once again, that last one in, new kid on the block, the slight outsider. even more, all my personal connection in chinley is through mr. fish. all of them still a polite company. i understand it takes ages of time and real efforts to build a friendship. a friend matters. a friend is someone you understand and know a thing or two about AND vice versa. it all takes time. and kind open gestures.
i did feel a bit of envy when fish junior thanked dad for the wicked concert. hey, i did spot it after all. but it's not about who gets the big thanks, but more of- i am, yes, once again, one degree (at least) removed. and there is nothing that can trump their relationship in a sense- couples can separate, but parent-child bond is eternal, even in biological sense.
so on this crisp beautiful autumn day, i am sitting by self in the sunlight, missing my friends, where i am not a degree-removed, but have grown together. sadly, most of them are too faraway to enjoy the sun with me. even IF i had a big bash, there is no way that everyone would be there, logistically saying. and because i move around so much, i often wonder if i am forgotten. though i do understand that the rare but true friends can transcend the distance/time differences. but then it's not an everyday thing. that's why they are so special.
i do think eventually i may be integrated into fish's world as a person of my own right. it may take an awful long time. however, regardless of that (or this long blattering post), i just simply wanted to scribble that i miss my friends, the people i understand and know, love and miss. zero degrees removed. friends who knows who i am without another introduction or polite small talks.