I'm approaching the end of my first week in Knoxville, and I can't complain at all. This has probably been the smoothest and easiest of any of my cross country moves, and the city itself isn't bad either. Knoxville isn't the largest, most metropolitan place I've lived by any means, but I could definitely see Andy and I making a life here for the next several years while I put some time playing in an orchestra under my belt.
I left for Knoxville from Memphis on the Sunday after Thanksgiving exhausted. Andy's brother and his girlfriend were in town, and we had a bunch of people over to the house for a Mario 3 session that night before (I don't think we beat it, collectively). When I finally got to bed I had just a few hours sleep before I got on the road. I made appointments to look at a couple of places to live until May in Knoxville, but I was very unhappy with both properties once I took a look in person. Although this was very frustrating, I kept my cool, went to a Starbucks, and opened Craigslist. The first listing looked legit, so I gave him a call to visit the place. It turns out the guy that lived there was a rock star/producer, and was excited about having a musician living with him, so that's where I live now. The area is great, and I can even see the Smokey Mountains from my balcony!
I got a very warm welcome from the orchestra upon my arrival at the first rehearsal, and the shows have been fun to play so far. The KSO is smaller than the DSO, but they are very tight-knit, and it seems as if everyone is friends with everyone. After the shows, you can even see most everyone at a bar hanging out together. The principal bassoon, Aaron, seems to be a good fit with me, both musically and personality wise. We've hung out several times outside of rehearsals and shows, and I look forward to really building a reputation for our section, and doing things that leave a mark in the orchestra and even in the city of Knoxville.
Part of being in a new place is simply getting out and seeing who you can meet. I checked out this bar near my condo called "Drink", where I had a friend tending bar. When I walked in I saw a large group of black people, which I hadn't seen since I came here. Naturally, I made my way into their group, and it turns out we had some things in common beyond our skin color. One of the ladies, Ashley, grew up in the same neighborhood I lived in when in Los Angeles, and was also a USC alum. Others were from Memphis, and we had common friends. After taking a bunch of business cards, I feel like I have a social circle outside of the orchestra here that is culturally closer to what I'm used to. I even got a loctitian (hair stylist) out of the group!
I'm really blessed for things to have lined up so nicely, and I look forward to what is to come. It's funny how all of these things can seem so coincidental, but maybe it's providence. I remember in the 2nd grade we took a field trip to see The Nutcracker at the Orpheum in Memphis, and I was most interested in the Arabian scene of the ballet for some reason. All I did for a week at school was draw pictures of that scene and wish I could wear those shear costumes. Now that I'm performing the Nutcracker with the KSO, that scene in particular gets me the most compliments, because it requires the two bassoons to really blend and be in tune with each other, both in pitch and musicality. It also happens to be the scene I enjoy playing most. I guess we should never take for granted what today's experiences could be connected to in the future, even decades later.