was pretty nervous about my parents’ visit a few weekends
ago. Although they’ve come to Durango before, this time
they were coming to see my new house, a symbol of my commitment
to living in this town. It’s pathetic to be 30-years-old
and still seeking parental approval, but that’s where
The thing is, my folks are from Los Angeles, so we both already
think our respective choices in homes is proof the other is
slightly nuts. Not that my mom and dad are city snobs by any
stretch. My mother, for example, feels very strongly that
pizza and tacos should be eaten with fingers rather than forks.
But they both love museums and talking about books and that
sort of thing, and I was a tad worried about seeing Durango
through their eyes.
The whole situation was epitomized by our Aug. 2 visit to
Music in the Mountains. My mom, dad, boyfriend and I were
about 30 seconds late to the tent at DMR because we’d
been picnicking in La Plata Canyon for too long. As I asked
for our tickets at will call, the festival director instructed
the employee not to seat anyone until the break. We were told
to stand at the back of the tent. I looked nervously at my
mom, who is always on time, but she was staring at the musicians
with a placid look.
As the first piece ended, chaos exploded around us as people
rushed from the wine stand to their seats.
“Go to your seats!” a higher- up in the festival
echelon said as I looked at her helplessly, clueless as to
where our seats were. She led us away from where we’d
been told our seats were and toward the front. I assumed she
was leading us to choice seats, but we ended up on an aisle
near an emergency exit with great views of the harpist’s
I let myself be soothed by the sounds of strings and the
gentle rain on the tent’s rooftop until the gentle rain
became a crescendo that drowned out the symphony. People started
laughing, and even the conductor started smiling. Rain blew
through the tent door and started drenching my mom, who pulled
her coat on tightly before a volunteer closed the gap. The
intermission came, and we’d heard little of the concert.
I turned to my parents apprehensively.
They were beaming. “I’ll never hear Copland’s
‘Appalachian Spring Suite’ or ‘Simple Gifts’
again without thinking of today,” my dad said as he
squeezed my arm.
“I love our seats – I can see the side of the
conductor’s face!” my mom said. Then she opened
her purse and held out a handful of cough drops, explaining
that at Carnegie Hall there are giant bowls of cough drops
to keep the audience from interrupting the performance by
clearing their throats.
The lights flickered, and it was time for the second set.
A percussionist from the first set asked to sit next to my
mom, saying, “I can’t leave until the rain stops.”
A board member quipped onstage, “That had a bit more
timpani than Misha called for,” and everyone chuckled
as they settled in for the last set.
By now, the rain had died down, and we could actually hear
the harpist. (“It’s a lullaby,” said my
boyfriend through nearly closed eyes.) Then came pianist Antonio
Pompa-Baldi, who played Liszt with fingers flying and head
jerking. He brought the house down. He panted down the aisle
when he finished, and I felt a surge of pride as my dad gave
me a look of “wow” during the standing ovation.
Pompa-Baldi grabbed a pretty woman from the side near us.
He announced that she was his wife, and they would be performing
a surprise duet of the “Hungarian Rhapsody” as
an encore. There were audible gasps from the audience –
and my parents. I didn’t know the song’s title
but soon recognized it from Bugs Bunny and Looney Toons.
On this note, we left the tent in high spirits, my parents
thanking me for the “unique” experience. And I
came away with the feeling that our town may be small and
on the informal side, but we get world-class music and culture
on our better days, too. Best of all, I looked through my
parents’ eyes at Durango and liked what I saw. My parents
finally “get” my home and, by extension, me.