Our diarist Anthea Kreston is hard back at work.
I am in the middle of a quartet tour, sitting on a train through glorious countryside between Frankfurt and Cologne. Tonight we play in the Augustusburg Palace, a UNESCO World Heritage Site), built in the early 18th century, this is a traditional u-shaped palace, surrounded by magnificent gardens and a resplendent hunting lodge. Next, we head to Zeist, in central Netherlands, to play in a Moravian Church. The Moravians fled persecution in the mid 1700’s – it is one of the oldest Protestant denominations, originating in the Bohemian Reformation in the 15th century.
My time in the United States was cathartic – I bathed nostalgically in the culture of my upbringing, and on the other hand, was hit hard by the flaws in my homeland. The disparity between rich and poor, the homelessness – these I had internalized and had become accustomed to. When I returned, seeing the city decay in parts of Philadelphia and Spokane, sidestepping sleeping bodies which began to appear on the sidewalks in the late afternoon, I was mortified in hindsight at my blindness. It is, however, ok to love something that is flawed. In fact, that is the only way that we, as humans, continue. Fight the good fight as much as possible, but also Stay Calm and Carry On.
There are things I began to look forward to, as our return to Berlin approached. The abundant, unapologetic carbohydrates, the general green-ness and fitness of the people, the amazing opportunity for my children to attend the John F Kennedy School, the passionate love of classical music, the ability to play music with incredible colleagues, to learn music which was written in these lands – to begin to connect the music I have always loved and played with location, history, architecture. Eating elaborate dinners after 10 PM, including dessert!!
I was also able to assess the things which had led to constant low-level stress for me this past year and a half. I want to take control of my life again – I feel as if I have spent a year in a clothes dryer, desperately trying to hold onto the things I love while being thrashed about and turned on my head. I have hired my old German tutor to come once a week to help me navigate the mail, emails, and any business which overwhelms me. We have a house cleaner, and some babysitters. I have signed up for a three-week intensive German course. We will go on more family trips to explore and get to know Europe. I want to be more aware of where I am going – the history of the buildings I am performing in. I want to take this opportunity and take advantage of it – for all of my family, each in their own way. I am calmer, wiser, more aware of my flaws, and at the same time more determined than ever to hold onto this experience and to craft it into something that will make us all more strong, more worldly, closer, and give us the tools to live life without fear and with a lighthearted curiosity to the world around us.