SHARING A LIFE - Page 6 ©2002 Deborah Henson-Conant

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But I’m not trying to tell you about all the little adventures we had. I want to tell you about our greatest adventure. Because, some time after we performed “An Evening of Fluff,” I decided to move East. About the same time, Celeste fell in love with Edward, a conducting student, and decided to get married. "Married?" I said. "Why?"

“I asked myself,” she said, “if I were looking back on my life from the end, what would I regret not doing. And I realized I’d regret not having a family, not having kids, not being married.”

I said, “But that's so different. That's not at all what I want to do. What I'd regret -- I'd regret not pursuing music as far as I could go with it.”

“I don't care about music in that way,” Celeste said. "I love it, but it's not the end-all and be-all for me."

"It is for me," I said.

But by then, we were friends, so we came up with a plan. She would have a family and I would have a musical career and we would share the experiences.
We would share a life.

And we did. For more than twenty years, now, we have shared our lives. She swears I have the best advice about raising kids. I KNOW she has the best advice about dealing with the stress of a solo musical career.

For twenty years we've rarely seen each other, but we've talked, sometimes hours a day, sometimes once or twice a month. We've used the phone, the postal service, and email to connect. To share our frustrations. To ask for help. Sometimes there's barely any time. "I just need you for two minutes,” she'll say. “Just tell me I’m not crazy.”

"Thirty seconds," I'll call and say, "give me just one piece of advice -- about ANYTHING. Or... Or ... Just tell me I can get through this. I just need to hear you say that."

We write to each other at length about responsibility. We talk about how to organize papers. We talk about how to manage ice cube trays. We talk about how to raise children and how to be honest on stage. We talk about teaching and rollerblading and ice skating and how the key to going fast is going slow. About counting out loud, how to use your eyes to help your hands, how to ask questions, how to be human, how to connect.

At breakneck speed our lives gallop in what seems like wild dissonance, a "housewife," an "artist," a "mother," a "performer" ...and then there is that moment, that cadence, when the notes coincide and we realize, whatever the sound, no matter the number and extent of our mistakes, we are …together. We are playing the same piece and are together in the music.

This is our duet. And that cadence is so surprising, so triumphant and unexpected that still, after all these years, I laugh with delight at the moment of connection.

And lo and behold, after twenty years living thousands of miles apart, last year Edward was named musical director of the Hartford Symphony Orchestra and suddenly Celeste has moved within driving distance. Another cadence. Another surprise. I can actually SEE my best friend at any time by getting in my car and driving for two hours.

Suddenly, we are closer.

Or are we?

Frankly, all these years, I never noticed the distance.

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