It was a potential story that brought me back to the University of Oregon School of Music last Saturday. The Oregon Electronic Device Orchestra (OEDO) is the newest and most unusual student ensemble at the UO. Their instruments are the diversions of our video-gaming, social-media-connected world: Wii controllers, iPads, and computer keyboards. Pretty much anything that you can plug in and waste your time with they use to make music.
Anyway, I’m at the music school Saturday night waiting for the concert to start when I run into an old friend. She has a new composition for bassoon and digital media premiering tonight. We’ve got some time until the hall opens, so we sit in lobby and catch up on the last several years. Before long, we land the other subject we have in common.
We start talking about our kids.
Julia and I both noticed after Anna was born how becoming parents changed our relationships with our friends. We grew closer to those who had kids and further apart from those who didn’t. I was reminded of that again last night. My friend and I spent far more time talking about our kids, parenting, schools, and day care than anything else. And it was such a natural topic for us to gravitate towards. I don’t think it’s even possible for two parents to talk for any length of time without our kids entering the conversation. They are the center of our lives now. That’s something that our childless friends understand on an intellectual level, perhaps, but they just don’t get it.
Being a parent changed my life. Before Anna was born, I had my whole life mapped out. I was a composer. I was going to move wherever I could find an academic gig. That was the plan.
Then Anna came along and the plan changed. We stayed in Eugene and put down roots. Where I was once willing to move across the country I’m now reluctant to consider moving out of her school boundaries. I moved so much as a kid and because of all that moving I was always the new kid. I hated being the new kid and I don’t want Anna to have to deal with that.
Because of Anna, I became a stay-at-home parent—something I never imagined doing. Because of Anna, I became a writer—something else I never imagined doing. But having a kid changes everything. When I try explain this to my childless friends they don’t really get it. When I explain it to my friends who are also parents, they get it right away.
And now that I am a writer, it’s natural that I would write about what I know. Parenting, of course, but also music. I’ve have an extensive background and it makes no sense to let it go to waste.
So I can go back, and I can draw upon my background to write this article, but I’m not the same person who left eight years ago. Saturday night reminded me of that. As much as the building and the surrounding campus have changed since 2003, I have changed much, much more.