so there we all were, two hundred some odd of us plus the almost fifty kids from the current crop and assorted members of the voice faculty and the great man himself.
i do not know what the official count was, but we were there from nearly every graduating class going back forty years; new and starting out, middle aged and greying, old and out of shape. some of us were not where we expected to have been. some of us were greater than our youthful expectations, some less. we were still married, or never married, or no longer married. we came alone or with wives and husbands and children. some of us were couples with children who belong to the choir in their own right. some of us had teachers in the choir, others students.
and larry, kept telling us that we are the choir, all of us, present and not present.
all of us.
not any one year, not now and before, but all of us that ever stood to sing in that choir present and forever interwoven, inextricable, one foundation, all of us living in what larry is calling universal time.
it is an exclusive membership, limited in the entry of each of us, one by one, according to how the auditions came out and what voices were needed that year. we had to earn our place each year. some dropped in as freshmen, some had to wait and work and watch.
but once we had come in, we were of the choir and could call it home no matter how much time had passed or how far away we had moved. we never forgot how to sing deep river, and we never forgot why.
so there we all were, too many for the risers, too many for the curtain to close on the stage and we came from our separate, divergent lives and nervously crowded together but all of a sudden we were all that one choir and we were all nineteen again and golden and perfect but time had not simply reversed or stood still because while each of us was suddenly transported back to the time when we first stood in that choir, we were each of us in our own present and looking out along the crowd we caught our breath and we said to each other "they are so beautiful" and we reminded each other "they are us."
i say we did these things because i know i did them, and i saw and heard the same conversations repeated all around the room.
"do you think the new kids fully understand this?" we asked the other kids from about our time. we decided they probably understood that it was a significant thing, an important thing, but they could not possibly understand the full depth of it.
"how could they?" we said. "we didn't. we were too young." and i'm sure kids older than us overheard and nodded sagely, knowing what we can't yet know because we're too young.