By Kendra Holliday | August 5, 2013
Our last day in Vienna was declared Beethoven Day.
The Grand Finale.
For the past year, we’ve saved up money for this trip to Vienna.
Blood, sweat, tears.
For the past few months, we’ve been listening to Beethoven’s Symphonies in meaningful succession, preparing for the culmination of the Ninth, at his grave.
Beethoven Day Eve, I fell asleep in love, listening to the Eighth Symphony.
That morning, we went to his 4th floor apartment. As I looked at his clock, piano, lock of hair and listened to excerpts of his music at the listening stations, I felt his presence.
I trembled, my eyes filled with tears, but I held back.
A scrap of exposed wallpaper.
His passionate scribbles.
The staircase he stalked up and down, for years.
Made me weak in the knees.
Second stop was further out, more rural than urban – Heiligenstadt, where he went to try and heal his hearing loss, and where he wrote the anguished Heiligenstadt Testament to his brothers.
But there, I felt nothing, no trembling, no tears. It was beautiful, but disappointing.
Our third stop was even further out – Zentralfriedhof, the cemetery where he is now buried (he was moved there in 1888).
We walked the length of the beautiful cemetery – over 3 million people have been laid to rest there, making it one of the largest cemeteries in the world.
Finally, after about 30 minutes, we found his grave.
We settled down in the soft grass, plugged in headphones, opened up the score, and listened to his Ninth Symphony.
45 minutes in, peaceful and meaningful, but no trembling, no tears…
And then, the white butterfly appeared. It flew from behind us and flitted to his monument, back and forth, in time with the music, dancing, tremulous, a reflection in the sparkling blue sky.
Finally, I could let go. Trembling. Tears.
And then, as if on cue, a woman walked up to his grave with reverence and left a bouquet of white flowers.
More trembling, tears,
The white butterfly soared.
Ode to Joy.
That moment made it ALL worth it – the trip, the stress, life, love.
Beethoven lives on in our hearts.
Before we took our leave, I removed the gem I sometimes wear at the top of my cleavage, near my heart, and placed it in a hidden spot on his monument.
After we left, I couldn’t stop crying. I wept all the way back on the subway, right next to a man persistently picking his nose and flicking his boogers. Later, we grabbed a cab and the driver drove us to our next hotel at breakneck speed, as if he was racing the world.
That night, we celebrated Austria for the last time, toasting and making love. Here is a picture of me in our hotel room.
I hated to leave.
I couldn’t wait to come home.
OK, thanks for humoring me. This concludes the passionate Austria gushing. Now back to our regularly scheduled sex programming.
Meanwhile, I’m going to watch Clockwork Orange again…