In lieu of live shows, our series of brief written episodes continues with a violinist from the string quartet ETHEL. Here is a hauntingly beautiful example of their work.
Person: his grandmother
At 91 years old, my grandma continues to be an absolute boss during the COVID-19 pandemic. She cracks open a beer in her tiny senior-housing apartment, enjoys her favorite albums, and — holy shit! — did I mention she’s getting paid time off from T.J. Maxx?! Yeah, she was a store greeter in the pre-pandemic days and no, she does not work Black Friday, thanks for asking.
Place: his apartment roof
When I need fresh air, I crawl outside my window and climb the fire escape to my roof (I’m lucky to be on the top floor so I don’t disturb anyone). Usually, I see airplanes flying non-stop, but now it’s only a few here and there. There’s nothing more therapeutic than listening to the blue jays talk and watching leaves grow on trees over time. Nature thrives despite COVID-19 and that gives me peace of mind.
THING: “Beach Trash aka his violin
The beach trash sticker was a gift from ETHEL’s violist, Ralph Farris, for my birthday, when we were performing at UCLA. It’s the sort of gift you give someone when you see each other too much, but it’s been with me for over five years. If you imagine the sticker slowly fusing with the violin case’s protective plastic from sunlight and age, you have a pretty accurate representation of the interpersonal relationships in our quartet. In quarantine, I’ve gained a bigger appreciation of my violin. A few days before the “stay at home” order, ETHEL was canceled during a soundcheck in Denver, when gatherings of 250 or more were banned by the governor. Since then, like everyone else, our concerts have been canceled for what looks to be many months. Despite not having them, the significance of the violin still exists. In its purest form, it remains a way to express, communicate, connect, and create, which seems to be more vital now during this time isolated from others.