Interlude: Opera Buddies

My new best friend has me thinking about the nature of friendships.

The Buddhists say ‘like attracts like.’ I know too many people who look like their pets not to believe them. It’s natural to move towards things we like and away from things we don’t, but these friendships based on physical similarity can be funnily unimaginative; a world of people basically looking to spend time with themselves – how unoriginal.

Before a drivers license friendships are based strictly on proximity. Pray you you grow up near a cool neighbor or least one with a pool. Then comes HighSchool where people size you up on the first day and that will be your identity and friend group for the next four years. You are a jock, skater, nerd, or headbanger; snide looks will herd you where you belong. Someone said to choose your friends for their looks and your enemies for their brains. I suggest foregoing enemies all together.

For me friendships are a mutual agreement that while we’re together, whether by proximity or interest, you have my back and I have yours. And unless you kick my dog (who looks like me) we will be friends forever.

It is a love of art that brings me together with my new friend Chaltin.

Chaltin wears a mustard-yellow coat, big sun-glasses, and dark long hair. In my memories she always wears this coat, but the image is apocryphal, she has several coats.

Out of a sun-shower we run into the safety of the museum. She is dripping in thoughts, distant and aloof as a cool French movie. The ‘coolness’ though is broken easily with a laugh and we continue together thru the galleries pass the swashbuckling N.C.’s and up to Andrew’s secret Helga’s. It is early in our cultural adventures together and I’m so happy today to introduce her to the Brandywine River Museum.

Chaltin is a master egg tempera painter and computer programmer.

We meet in grad school and continue a long distance friendship after graduation. I think we recognize the only child in each other. We will see all the big art exhibits that come to town, one of our favorites being the Matisse Cut-Outs Exhibit at MOMA in 2015.

The goal of this blog, to see 101 operas, would never be possible without Chaltin’s friendship. Not even remotely possible.

I visit her new pad in Manhattan for the first time to see three amazing exhibits at the Metropolitan Museum of Art: Michelangelo’s drawings, a Hockney retrospective, and… I guess it was two amazing exhibits and one I don’t quite remember. It might have been Gauguin, but that seems impossible that one museum could have all three at once.

The Metropolitan Opera turns out to be not too far from her place so I disappear for two hours to see Pagliacci.

I ask her curiously one day, much later, when beginning this blog, “Why didn’t you see all the early operas with me?” She says, “I didn’t want to impose.” I say, “Impose? I just assumed you didn’t like opera.” We laugh. We could both probably learn to communicate better with each other.

Eventually we will see soooo many operas together, maybe even a 101.