Meeting the folks

I 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 I’m at.

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 back.

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.

-Jen Reeder



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