Wednesday, November 23, 2011

Persistent? Who, Me?

On Sunday, I had plans to see a student production of Suor Angelica at CUA.

I was meeting my new friend Ann-Therese there. She's a Ph.D. student in philosophy, has the most fascinating life stories of studying in Rome and of her sister who's a nun, and she's wickedly funny to boot. I was so excited to officially hang out for the first time - before, we'd only ever seen each other at our Saturday volunteer service project tuttoring inner-city girls. And the opera? Ooh, I love opera.

But when I got to the theater, there were dozens of people waiting in line for a handful of tickets. Ann-Therese was far enough ahead of me that she managed to snag one. By the time I made it to the booth, however, they made an announcement: "Sorry, folks. We're all sold out."

With a collective sigh and disgruntled mutterings, all the people waiting for tickets left... except for me. Ann-Therese was already inside and texted me that she could see an empty seat. I considered pretending that I already had a ticket but had been in the bathroom (a tactic I've employed before) but my conscience got the better of me. There were still a few will-call tickets on hold. I lurked optimistically in the vestibule.

One by one, people showed up to claim their will-call tickets. I could hear the opening strains of music as the show began. The number of remaining spots dwindled and shrank. Other patrons checked in for last-minute tickets and were turned away. No one else waited. It was just me, hanging out in the lobby, with my ham sandwich (conveniently stowed in my purse and now pulled out for a pre-theater snack).

The opera started at 2 pm. I asked the guy behind the counter, "When will you stop holding the will-call tickets?" "At 2:20," he said. I checked the time. 2:11. Well, as long as there was even a hope of getting in, I wasn't going anywhere.

So I waited. And waited. Finally, at 2:18, the ticket guy gave in. "Here," he said, "I have two will-call tickets left that haven't been claimed. You can have one."

Hardly daring to believe my luck, I handed him ten dollars before he could change his mind.  I slipped into the darkened theater and dashed to the only open seat left - in the very first row. Luckily for me, the opera hadn't started yet, just an introductory prelude. The show was beautiful and the story very sad.  I loved every minute.

Afterwards, Ann-Therese and I headed over to the campus Starbucks for some delicious holiday beverages. It's not Christmas til you see those cheery red cups. We sat for hours in the student center, having what she called a "mind-meld," as we discovered how much we have in common. (So much, in case you were wondering.) Don't you love meeting kindred spirits?

The talk turned to my pre-opera ordeal. "You're so persistent," she said, impressed that I had waited for a ticket until I got one. That brought me up short.

"You think so?" I said, surprised, because in general perseverance is my hardest virtue. I wish I were persistent, but in general, I give up on things pretty easily.

But I thought about it, and I wondered what made this time different. I waited as long as I did because of hope, plain and simple. As long as there were tickets, there was hope. And as long as there was hope, I wasn't going to give up. I think that maybe I usually give up on things so easily because I lose sight of my end goal - I lose hope that it's attainable. So the real project here, I guess, is learning to find reasons to hope and to make hope last.

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