Well, I am alive and well and lonely here in Racine, but not for long. Tomorrow morning, if all goes as planned, I will be on a Northwest Airlines flight departing Milwaukee’s Mitchell Field at 6 a.m. (groan!) that will take me to Orlando, Florida – where my wife, her dad, Polly, Mark, Lorelai, and members of the Tremper High School Choir are already soaking up the sun. Actually, it has been raining most of the time they’ve been there thus far, which makes my decision to remain behind a couple of days before flying down to be among the wisest decisions I ever made. (I had to be here to teach some lessons, do some Godspell rehearsals, etc. Being gone the entire week was simply not an option.) But from the sounds of it they are still having fun. Lorelai, in particular, is getting very very high marks for being a good-natured trooper – rain or shine she feels incredibly fortunate to be there.
When we figured out that Kathy would be taking the bus down with the choir (she’s actually one of the chaperones, as is her dad) while I remained here for a couple of days, I pictured forty eight hours of peace and quiet – maybe curling up in front of the TV with the “Doubt” DVD my wife bought for me – playing with the dogs – punctuated by some voice lessons and music rehearsals. But in fact it has been pandemonium without pause since the moment the bus pulled away from the curve. I have been frantically busy trying to teach as many lessons as I could before my departure (so I have fewer to make up when I get back) – plus getting morning show interviews recorded to take me through the middle of next week – and when you stir in dealing with the dogs, finishing up my composition project for the Racine Choral Arts Society, and taking care of Godspell matters, it’s been get-that-guy-a-strait-jacket nuts.
And I think it’s been especially nuts because the person who really anchors me is half a continent away, getting her picture taken with Dumbo. I am having flashbacks to a spring break some years ago when Kathy spent the week after Easter down in Arizona with her friend Kate Barrow. . . and that was without a doubt the longest and hardest week of my life. By the time I reached Sunday, I felt like I’d run three marathons with a twenty-pound bag of manure on my back. I had so much to do and only myself to do it – and for the first time in my life I fully realized the enormous difference Kathy makes in my life – beyond the obvious things like “she makes me smile” or “she makes sure my face isn’t covered with toothpaste when I walk out of the house in the morning.” Kathy has a profound effect on what I am able to accomplish, and I can’t even fully explain just what it is she does. And all of the handy metaphors I could use to describe her – she’s the wind beneath my wings – my compass in the forest – my oar in the water – the dip for my chips – whatever . . . none come close to conveying just how much I depend on her and how relentlessly frantic yet oddly empty life feels when she’s not here.
So anyway, I have been carrying on as best I can – and some great things have actually happened today. At the radio station, I recorded three wonderful interviews- one with a Holocaust survivor from Glencoe, Illinois who comes to Kenosha next week for Holocaust Remembrance Day (there’s nothing like interviewing a Holocaust Survivor to realize how paltry my problems really are in the whole scheme of things) . . . another with the director of a wonderful documentary film about the Metropolitan Opera Auditions . . . and finally an interview with the artistic director of the Rose Ensemble, a superlative early music group that comes to Carthage on Sunday. The first one of those interviews had to happen at 7 this morning and the third and final one was at 5:45. Between those two interviews was a rock-solid day of lessons at Carthage, plus I had to get my exam written and run off for my opera class, play for someone at departmental recital, and somehow run home to let the dogs out. And when I had a spare few seconds here and there, I was finishing up the last of my arrangements for the Choral Arts Society’s upcoming folk music concert. It added up to 3 days of stuff packed into one, and I’m not done yet. It’s 10:45 and I still have to head to Carthage and the radio station for last minute stuff.
So this has been a day – and actually I’ve had days like this before (not many as challenging as this) – but it’s all much harder because I’m flying solo. . . because my combination Co-Pilot, Stewardess, and Flight Engineer isn’t here and all I have are two golden retrievers who are pretty but not exactly helpful.
But tomorrow, if all goes well, I will be left behind no longer!
See you when I’m back from the Land of Mickey and Minnie.
pictured above: this is Lily and Rosie, Polly and Mark’s two dachsunds. Monday morning I had to drive Polly’s vehicle back to their house and park it in their garage (the most nerve- wracking ordeal of these last two days. Driving other people’s cars is SO scary for me.) When I went into the house to put the keys away, I was amazed that Polly and Mark’s dogs were nowhere to be seen. (When you walk into our house, Bobbi and Ellie tackle you as though they’re trying out for the Pittsburgh Steelers’ linebacker squad.) It turns out that they were both in their little cage back in the laundry room and in no particular mood to check out who was in the house. The cute expression on their faces seems to indicate their sadness at being Left Behind like me.