Last Saturday, instrument in hand, I was walking off the stage of Carnegie Hall having just played a show with my orchestra and Arlo Guthrie. The closer of the whole hall singing “This Land is Your Land” brought a distinctly humanist glow to my face and propelled me into excited conversations while exiting the stage. Our conductor had taken up preacher-style handshaking and I walked straight into the receiving line. It occurred to me that this show was all his doing. A firm handshake: “thanks, John. Really.” He smiled. “I love your new tux. What kind of cufflinks you wearing?” “Nothing yet,” I said. I smiled and returned to my blissful hippy dippy world.

In true wildcat fashion, we have a concert tomorrow (two weeks before finals, four days after Carnegie Hall). Our night-time rehearsal today seemed daunting until I remembered that playing with this orchestra really is a gift. While settling into this mindset and channeling positive energy, John again caught me. This time it was “Eli, I have something for you.” Oh? I followed him while I drew possibilities in my mind. He pulled his coat from where it was thrown over a seat and reached into the pocket. He produced a small box and handed it to me. My mind exploded a little bit. I opened it to find two silver-plated violin-shaped cufflinks. My heart about stopped. I didn’t know how to thank him so I just beamed while I fumbled for the right words. “Thank you, John. Thank you so much.”

The smallest reminders of the beauty in this world inspire such profound gratitude in me. Honest support and a listening ear is what I usually get from people regarding my transition. John is not big on emotions. His support in helping me navigate the waters of fashionable manliness is uniquely his. It sounds silly, but it means more to me than he could ever know.

You really went above and beyond this time, John. Thank you.


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