For years, I sang in a choir called the Young New Yorkers’ Chorus. It was all 20- and 30-somethings. Youthful voices blend together well, and it was a pleasure making music with such a crisp, clear sound. We commissioned lots of new music from young composers too. I left the choir when we moved to Pennsylvania, but I’m still the president of the board of trustees. I try to make it in for many of the concerts.
The Christmas concert in particular is always beautiful, partly because the music is familiar. I smile listening to harmonies I have sung before, and choral music has a special satisfaction to a listener when you know a profound moment is coming. The concert was this past Saturday night. I bought a ticket and cleared it with my husband to take Saturday evening “off” to go into New York.
So that was the plan, but this has been a rough week. Lots of work stuff has been in my lap, plus a lot of personal during-the-day stuff. I had several bad nights in a row of the baby kicking me. Come Saturday, I was exhausted. And the weather was atrocious. Freezing rain. Fun.
The idea of driving to the train station, getting on the train for an hour and 15 minutes, then taking the subway and walking in the rain to the church seemed like a lot of bother. Even worse, I’d then have to repeat the journey in reverse. I checked the train schedule and remembered that Amtrak starts running pretty infrequently on Saturday nights. I’d have to take an 11:05 train back to Philly, which would get in at 12:30. I wouldn’t be home until 1 a.m. If I was already yawning at 2 p.m. (when I was weighing all this) how would I make it work?
But I’ve long repeated a 2-part mantra for making space for fun in one’s life: Plan it in, and do it anyway. I’d already planned to go to the concert. That just left the second part: do it anyway.
So I did.
I had a good time. I got a lot of work done on the train and while waiting in the Amtrak waiting area at Penn Station for 30 minutes before the trip home. I wasn’t truly nodding off until the last half hour of the train ride back (i.e. at midnight). There was, unfortunately, an accident on I-76 right around 12:30 a.m. or so, which meant traffic got backed up to go around it. I didn’t get home until 1:20 — and I really didn’t need that last bit of delay. But my husband was still up, so we watched The Daily Show together.
The concert itself was fantastic. I enjoyed several pieces by young composers such as Joshua Shank and Abbie Betinis. I got to say hello to lots of people, and to see New York, with the Christmas trees on the sidewalk lending a top note of Frasier Fir to that strange but immediately recognizable smell of the city.
Am I tired today? Of course. But I’d be tired anyway. At least in this version of events I heard lovely Christmas music. The remembering self deserves consideration in decisions too, not just the present self.
In other news: Actually, two more little bits of Christmas joy. Despite going to bed around 1:45 a.m., I got a reasonable amount of sleep because I slept in until 8:30. The older boys got up and went and turned on the TV themselves. Second, when I finally did stir at 8:30 my first thought was “Oh, crap, the elf.” I’d forgotten to check if Sassy had moved (if you get my drift) when I got home past 1 a.m. the previous night. I was figuring out various options. Perhaps I could claim he’d only moved a few inches and people just weren’t seeing it. Or I could hope that no one had started looking for the elf yet. But when I got downstairs, Sassy had moved! It’s a holiday miracle!