The Beauty of Ordinary Life

Steel hissed as the tram reached the station, coming to a complete stop. Its doors opened with a flop. Analea alighted, fiddling with her clinking umbrella until it opened with a thump.
Analea rushed down the sidewalks, honks and roaring engines overtaking her. A thunder cracked afar.
She waited at a traffic light, looking at her watch, running late. Why had João not called earlier to tell her when to leave? Drops pitter-pattered above her head on the canopy. Typical João. Always so last minute.
The traffic light beeped rhythmically.
João was waiting for her by the entrance. “Yeah, it’s okay,” he said angrily as she approached. “We’re late, might as well forget it, go somewhere else.”
“What? No!” replied Analea. “And the tickets?”
“Whatever,” he said. “They’re not expensive.”
“Well, we can still try and go in, see the second half, or something.” She walked past him to the entrance, ignoring his passive-aggressive nonsense.
He sighed loudly and followed her. Their steps echoed in the empty foyer, everyone already inside.
An old guy checked their tickets. A woman traded their coats for chips. The stairs creaked as they rushed up.
The doors to the arena were closed. “Sorry, we already started.” said an old woman, walking slowly towards them. She cleared her throat and smiled apologetically. “You'll have to wait a bit.”
“Great,” said João, dejected.
“Yeah, we’ll wait,” said Analea.
They looked at the bar. Glasses chinked as a man took them out of a tray, sorting them on the counter.
The first act finished. The audience applauded.
The old lady opened the doors for them. Analea’s heels clicked against the wooden floor. The hinges on João’s seat squeaked as he sat down.
The hall fell silent. A few people coughed.
The music resumed, a piano and flutes; drums and violins. Light at first, calm.
Analea looked at the musicians. What was she doing here? Why did she always follow him to these stupid concerts? She liked concerts—she loved concerts—, just not classical music. Classical music didn’t sway her; give her metal instead.
Yawning, she flipped through the pages in the program. She was not following him to a concert ever again. She loved João, but there ought to be better things to do together to try to save their marriage.
João listened with closed eyes, trying to take in the music, but felt nothing special. He thought about their fight last weekend. Did they do anything but quarrel these days? How could they have grown so distant? He felt upset. Why did he always have to remind Analea everything? She should be able to get to places on time. He tried fruitlessly to set these thoughts aside and focus on the music.
The first movement of the second piece finished. The hall fell silent again, briefly. The second movement started.
A few rows back a couple started whispering. João turned back but didn’t see them. The second and third movements followed smoothly and the concerto finished. It wasn’t particularly remarkable. The listeners applauded and the musicians walked out.
The drone of muted voices replaced the applause. People started standing up and walking out for the intermission.
Analea looked at João. “What do you think? Did you like it?”
“It was alright,” said João. “Should we get something to drink? I’m a bit thirsty.”
“I’m okay. You go, I’ll stay here.”
João stood up and joined the crowd.
In the bar, against rude Zurich chaff pretentious enough to think their modicum of wealth granted them the right to cut lines, he managed to get a glass of wine.
He walked to a counter and drank. People talked amiably but the guttural hisses and scratches of Swiss German were hostile to his Lusophone ear. He thought of Analea. Sadness had replaced his anger. This was supposed to be their date, time to have fun. He had expected they’d enjoy it, but it wasn’t going well; things were tense. She looked distant, almost bored.
The third call rang and everyone walked back.
Musicians came out and the murmur quieted. People applauded moderately as the conductor came out. The music started, a piano and strings.
João closed his eyes. This time he managed to give the music his full attention. His head swung with the tune.
The music caught Analea completely by surprise! Whoah! This composition was actually good, very very good. No, it was awesome! The more she listened, the more she liked it. She couldn’t remember anything like this. She listened delighted!
Who composed this? She had probably read it but didn’t remember. Must be contemporary, none of that boring old stuff. How very exciting!
What was this music about? War? Death? The beauty of ordinary life? Power? Gods? What was the point of life? She didn’t know. It didn’t matter.
The pianist took his hands off the keys, time for the violins to lead. The rising shrills captivated her. She listened with rapture, imagining a city sprouting on a hill, buildings rising mighty with the melody, explosions of color in spring, trees jumping into the sky.
Her seat creaked slightly as, mouth agape, she inched closer to the musicians.
João opened her eyes and looked at her. It had been very long since he had last seen this youthful expression of joy in Analea. How he loved her, his Analea! He looked at the stage, tiny tears in his eyes.
The music slowed down, the quiet before the storm. It resumed with gusto, the piano vibrating again, joining the violins in a crescendo towards a climactic finale.
A tickling sensation crawled up from Analea’s soles, spreading all over her skin and intensifying as it reached her head. Now, this music! This music was something!
The piece finished. The audience applauded enthusiastically.
“Wow, I never thought...” She looked at João and took his hand. She looked back at the musicians. “Wow, Joe, this was amazing!”