Iâ€™m going to tell you a story every day for the week.
I was in the men’s room on the second floor building 14N, the music floor of the arts building, and I was crying. You might imagine the day I learned how to cry again would have been filled with all-out bawling or hours of tears. Or that fourteen dry-eyed years would come to an end because some catastrophic event. You might be wrong.
I don’t remember when I stopped crying, but as a youngster I cried easily. I’m not sure why; I don’t think I was particularly insecure or sad. In fact, I remember being happy and care-free, but something minor would happen and my eyes would well up and I’m be sniffling and wiping my nose on my sleeve like kids are wont to do.
I don’t remember when I realized I’d forgotten how to cry. I thought I just didn’t have a reason to cry, perhaps. I do remember wanting to cry, curled up in a ball on my floor after my first girlfriend broke up with me and waiting for the tears to come. I waited for hours. They didn’t come.
But I do remember when I learned how to cry again. It was February. It was bitterly cold in Boston. I was halfway through my freshman year and to say things weren’t going my way is an understatement. Going from being a top student at a regular Joe high school to MIT could be the archetype of going from being a big fish in a small pond to a small fish in a big pond.
And so my sense of identity started to erode. The Adrian Bischoff of my mind was a good student, the best student; I was doing okay in my classes. He was a good Christian; I spent my days doubting and questioning. He was a good friend; I had no grasp of how to help my friends cope with a recent suicide of a person close to many of them.
And he was a good musician, which brings us to the second floor of 14N. There was a spot open in the orchestra for fourth trumpet on the Mahler and I wanted it. The Italian director had me audition in his office and, though it didn’t go horribly, he picked apart my intonation and my phrasing. When he was finished, I speed walked to the bathroom and as I walked through the door, I put my forehead against the cold window and my shoulders shuddered and my eyes wet my cheeks.