Thursday, September 23, 2010

dancing in the street

I was all settled, tucked into bed. But the music wouldn't stop. Trumpets, trombones... I could even hear a tuba. Not too loud, but loud enough that it kept waking me up every time I started to fall asleep.

"Am I imagining it?" I wondered. "Is one of my neighbors just playing their stereo too loud?"

Nothing to see out my window. Sigh. Back to bed.

Louder, now. Can't sleep. Slippers on, alarm off. Out the front door -- following the music.

Down the block and across the street: a brass band. People dancing quietly in the street. This is no party, that is obvious. But something.

I watched for a while, and listened. Pajamas but no jacket, a light rain on and off. Finally someone from the circle of dancers turned toward me, and I asked, "what is happening here?"

"It's the Brass Messengers. They knew Ethan."

It takes her a few moments to comprehend my blank stare.

"The man who was killed in the accident. You know. And the Brass Messengers."

I'm sorry, I don't know. I work out of town; I'm not home much. What happened?

"The car accident. It's been in the paper."

Oh. I only get the Strib on Sundays.

"It's a memorial concert, I guess. A remembrance."

Which explains the subdued but emotion-filled music. The long trombone solos and the eerie melodies. I understand, now.

"I'm new to the neighborhood," I explain, "but I heard the trumpets, and I followed them here." She tells me all about the group, and about the accident. He had the right of way, but the other car never stopped. I saw the wreckage this morning on the way to work without realizing its significance -- a brick sign and garden planter for a neighborhood church, smashed to pieces. It caught my eye, and I remember thinking "if they haven't seen it yet, someone is about to have a bad day." But I didn't know it involved a neighbor.

The music and dancing went on for a while. Not raucous dancing. More just swaying and holding hands. Dancing for comfort.

I walked home when the music ended, thinking about what it means that a group of neighbors spent their evening dancing in the street in honor of one of their own. I think I'm lucky to live here.


  1. That's beautiful. Brought tears to my eyes.

  2. Thank you, Steve.

    An update: here's the Star Tribune article about the accident.