I'm an early riser. Actually, I'm an early waker. I normally wake around 5:30 or 6:00 (at first light) and then lie in bed with my iPhone or iPad until the Jazzman wakes around 7:30. Once he rouses, we sit and discuss the day until he has to get up to go to work. It's a precious and valued part of each day for me.
For the past 5 years, most Mondays have included a 7:00 p.m. rehearsal in Cleveland. I would leave home no later than 5:00 to allow for unknown traffic problems along the way, gassing up, if required, and then enough time to park the car, use the restroom, greet a few friends, and get settled in my assigned seat before warm-up. After rehearsal, I would rush to the car and start driving, arriving home at 11:15. (Concert weeks added multiple drives to Severance Hall, an extra 5 miles and half hour.) This same scenario occurred in sun, clear moonlight, clouds, rain, snow, sleet, 40mph winds, no traffic, heavy traffic, and accidents that stopped me in my tracks for an hour. Many nights I would be so tired that I would slap myself rhythmically - face, legs, top of head - to avoid falling asleep. A few times I stopped at the lone rest area along the turnpike to try to sleep for a few minutes, but I was always afraid of something bad happening to me, so would give up after five minutes and keep driving.
Every Monday morning when I looked at the clock and saw anything less than 6:30, I would wonder what my drive home would be like. Would I be able to stay awake for the drive? I would lie here for a few minutes wondering if I could possibly go back to sleep. (Nope!) Then I'd give up and go about my morning quiet time.
If I was sick - as happened yesterday - I didn't have to worry that if I wasn't better by time to leave, the next Monday night I'd have to endure an Individual Testing Session with the director - one of the most vilified aspects of membership in the chorus.
Yesterday morning I woke up. Period. I woke up. I didn't need to worry about the time. I didn't need to worry about whether I was rested enough to drive the 65 miles there and 65 miles back in safety. I didn't need to look at the weather forecast. I didn't need to think about my car's age or the cost of gas and toll or the condition of the turnpike. I just woke up.
As much as I hated resigning from the Cleveland Orchestra Chorus, doing so created a stress-relief incident that is probably the greatest I've never experienced. The photo above is Cleveland's Severance Hall, snapped quickly while I waited at the traffic light on one of my final drives to University Circle for a rehearsal.