Concierto de Aranjuez

It almost seemed like you couldn't go wrong


Concierto de Aranjuez
by siamak vossoughi

What I can tell you about Miles Davis is that when I listened to his music, I could see her. I could see her and she was even more than I thought she was and I was even more than I thought I was too. I couldn't see her face or anything like that, but I could see the world where she existed. It was the same one where I existed. As long as there was a music like that, the worlds where we existed were the same. She didn't even have to like the music necessarily, because it liked her. It had been made with her in mind, and it had been made with my hope in her in mind. The way that it had us in mind was unconditional. Look, it was saying, I am trying to be beautiful, so I have to believe in you whether you believe in me or not. Of course if you do believe in me, then where we'll get to together will really be somewhere.

I could see her when I listened to his music, but there was nothing rushed about it. There was nothing rushed about it in the way of leaving my little apartment to go out and find her. Anyway, there was nothing about the music to suggest that she was out somewhere among the city's streets and cafes, instead of at her own home listening to the music she believed in. And there was nothing rushed about it in the way of my going to a place where a woman was more likely to feel the way about Miles Davis that I did. It was not even a matter of Miles Davis, because the music was the world's. When I saw her, all I saw was someone who had something the way I had the music of Miles Davis, and all that was just a way of having a world. It was having a world that took in all of the world.

I had been trying to have all of the world quantitatively, and that was a losing battle, because even in the last moment before sleep, I would be reaching for something. I would be reaching for that which seemed the most ignored or forgotten about in the world. I didn't know how else to have a world. I didn't know how else to be all of who I was if it wasn't with tears. The tears did not have to come out - it was not a matter of them coming out, it was just a matter of them knowing that they had a home in me. The truth was that most nights I fell asleep with enough of a gladness about the day that was ending and about the day to come, but I was trying to pay attention to how limited that gladness was. It was conceivably as long-lasting as the time until the next human being I saw, because where I lived, the next human being I saw might be falling asleep outside in the street. It was a good feeling though to fall asleep there because at least that which seemed the most ignored or forgotten about was close at hand. At least when I reached for it, it was a real reach. I knew what I was reaching for at least, and it wasn't just a reaching away from something else.

But it was a kind of reaching that had no end in it, that had no peace in it. I didn't give much thought to peace in those days, because peace seemed like a choice to not look at something, to not look at something that was looking me right in the face. The only peace I had was in looking back at it, because at least I was doing what I should be doing, even if that looking had an aspect of war in it.

I had already begun to see that a man couldn't spend his whole life reaching , that he couldn't look at everything thinking only of what was missing from it, even when it was a human being falling asleep outside in the street, and what was missing was the four walls and a roof like I had. I had already begun to see it, but the music of Miles Davis was a confirmation of it. A man could reach, he could reach as high as he wanted, and he could do it peacefully. He could do it knowing that the thing he was reaching for was there. I didn't have to go out to the street and find her, because she didn't hinge on my finding her or not. She was there either way. She was there because life was bigger than me. The important thing was not whether or not I found her, the important thing was that I loved her. I knew it was love because I was not asking anything of her. I wasn't asking her to like Miles Davis the way I did, or even to have heard of him. It was very funny to think of taking him out to the street with me and looking for the woman who was taking him out to the street with her. If I did that, I would be looking for myself, and I already knew where I was. I was inside the four walls of my apartment, under its roof, and listening to his music, I was everywhere.

I was everywhere where a man could reach and still have a feeling of peace about where he was reaching from. I was in New York in 1953 and in Tehran in 1974 and in my own city of San Francisco in years that had ended and in years to come. What I owed life when I listened to his music was my very best effort. I owed it not just for my own sake, but because men in those cities and times had been owing it too, and they had ended up paying it, in some way or another. I wasn't in a rush to find her because I would be owing life either way. I wouldn't start owing life something more the day I found her, just something different. It could be anything - it could be any quality that the world suddenly took on on the day I found her. I just wasn't as sure about that suddenly as I had been before. I didn't want to diminish her or the discovery of her, but I wanted to be honest about the way that I could see her when I listened to the music of Miles, because I had been fighting just to stay a part of life, and if there was a music that made me feel like not only did I deserve to stay, but that I deserved her too, that was nothing to take lightly.

And I wondered if she knew that I loved her even though I wasn't rushing out to the street to find her. I wondered if she would take my lack of rush to mean it wasn't love. At least if I did rush out to the street to find her, that was something tangible that I could present to her one day. Even if it was years from now, she would be able to see when she looked at me that I had once gotten up in the middle of a song to go out and look for her, only because the song had made me see her. It was desperate, but I had thought that love needed desperation to be love.

But the truth was that when I saw her, there wasn't any rush to her either. Somehow we were both moving at the right pace, me at the pace of the song I was listening to, and she at her's. There were all kinds of things I still had to learn about the right way to reach for her. I was already learning something from the music, that even she was something I could reach for peacefully, and that my effort to stay a part of life was reaching for her. Sitting in my room and listening to Miles Davis and letting her be exactly what the music was combining with my heart to make her be, nothing more and nothing less, I was reaching for her, and I was reaching for her more directly than if I were to go out to the street. If I did that, I would eventually lose the song, and then I would be looking for two things. It was a lot just to have the song, and to know that there was a way to reach for her that took in all that was missing from the street and the world. The way to reach for her was with love. I had to admit that there was a love that was already there before I ever found her. It did not mean that she was an afterthought. Just because I could see her, it didn't mean that everything wouldn't be turned upside-down when I found her. It just meant that Miles could play with me turned upside-down in his music. I didn't know how he knew me so well, and I didn't know how he knew her so well either, because she and I were equals in his music. But we were equals in his music only as long as we were willing to look at as much of the world as the song was willing to look at. It was willing to look at everything, because it was willing to look at where beauty and tragedy were one. I had to love a world where a human being would be sleeping outside tonight with no four walls and no roof and no nothing, and I knew that she was doing that in her own way too. If we were both doing that, it was easy to understand why there was no rush to it. We were both inside of each other's effort to love the world, and listening to Miles, I knew that we were already there. We were already doing the thing that would make our meeting each other meaningful.

It almost seemed like you couldn't go wrong. As much as it had seemed before that in a world where they had been sleeping outside, you couldn't go right, or at least not really right, because even the gladness of a sunny morning held in it evidence of that night, it seemed now like you couldn't go wrong. Everything that I wanted to say to her was there for the saying, laid out in front of me. It was everywhere I turned. She was everywhere I turned too, because where else did I think that music came from but from the same world in front of me? The funny thing though was that if I were pressed to say just what it was that I wanted to say to her, the only thing I could think of was "Hello." That was the only thing that was laid out in front of me and laid out in front of her at once. It was funny because back when I had been reaching without end, there were a million things I wanted to say to her. I could have practically delineated them point by point. But she already knew all that, and I already knew all that. The real question was how I could tell her something that was as good as what Miles was saying in the song, and the only thing I knew about that for certain was that it was nothing I could plan ahead, but "Hello" was a good place from which to start.

When you walked out to the street with a music inside you like the music of Miles, hello was the start to everything because you knew that you had so much behind that hello. You didn't know what those things were, but you knew that they were in and around the neighborhood of love and humanity, and if there was wisdom and beauty in them, they would come out in time, there was no rush to any of it, because the last note of a song depended on the first, it depended on the first in order to be everything it was, even if a million things happened in between. One thing his music was telling me was that the thing you wanted was right in front of you, whether you thought of that moment as the first note of a song or the last. It was both. Finding her was both, and it might mean learning how to sing two songs at once to find her. But to have one song that contained her, that said that all a man ever did by living was reach, and all a woman ever did was the same, so that their beginning together began with their beginnings on their own, it meant that there was nothing quantitative about it, that I was a reach, that I was a reach for things larger than myself, things that I could hear in the music, and what they were asking of me was not quantity but belief, because what I felt when I listened to it was not just love but loved, and when it was like that, it didn't matter by what or by whom, just that it was there, in my apartment and in the street, in cities I knew and didn't know, and in wherever she was too, and the what and the whom would come in time.


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