On variations I

Café Havana, Cartagena, Colombia (April 5, 2014)

When my digital keyboard arrived and I began teasing out the notes that I knew of “Aria,” the first piece in The Goldberg Variations that I’d been immersing myself in for the past month, I allowed myself to experience the rest of the album again. I listened to it the next day, on my way home from work. I listened without paying attention to the fact that I was in mourning: I walked to the end of the subway platform, I just missed the train, and those who disembarked flooded my path. Once it cleared, I berated the brutal winter for killing my friend. Weeping for her at the beginning of the month had triggered my asthma, and after a few days I told myself to hold emotion at bay: in order to breathe, I was not allowed to feel. But on the subway platform that night, as the trills of a Variation built in my ears, I burst into tears.
          I’ve decided to tackle “Aria” because it is the first of the Variations and it is the easiest. The notes are clear, individual, and stay on the keyboard. Most of the album sounds as though the fingers have gone a little crazy—a little, not a lot.