We are given so much as musicians and performers. The opportunity to live a life immersed in music, to sing for a living, to play a professional version of dress-up, to see the world – the list goes on. The single hardest challenge – greater than any of the nerves, the criticisms, the competition, or the uncertainty of the future – is being away from our husbands, boyfriends, wives, sons, daughters, girlfriends. We miss our loved ones terribly, then, slowly, we grow accustomed to maintaining our own schedules, grocery shopping for one person, sleeping alone. Then we reunite, we are happy to be together again, and we then have to readjust to combining schedules, grocery shopping for two or more, and sharing the bed again. As soon as we readjust, we have to leave again, and the cycle begins anew.
Jeremy and I have a rule in order to cope. It's more of a guideline, really. We never spend more than three weeks apart if we're both in the states, never more than four when one of us is abroad. From time to time, on very rare occasions, we stretch the rule a bit, but we do our damndest to honor it. The reason we have it is that all too often, we can only scrounge out a day or two to make our visit, and it is all too easy to say to ourselves, it's too short a time or it's too expensive. By having the rule, we force ourselves to invest and prioritize our relationship and ensure regular time together. No matter how short or ridiculous our trips to visit each other have been in the past, we have always, without fail, found that it was more than worth the expense and effort. Time together is, as they say in the MasterCard commercials, priceless.
This weekend was my turn to make a crazy trip from coast to coast to visit Jeremy. After the show ended on Friday, I packed a small bag and then tossed and turned, paranoid that my alarm wasn't going to go off in 4 hours and that I would miss my early plane. Feeling like I had just fallen asleep, I awoke to my alarm chiming, and I made my groggy way to the airport to fly to Washington, DC, where Jeremy is working at Wolf Trap, where he has spent the last three summers. Leaving the plane, the humid heat of a Washington summer enveloped me, and I smiled, thinking that I would be able to envelop Jeremy in a big bear hug in a matter of minutes after weeks of waiting.
Our weekend was fun-filled, with a romantic dinner-date in Dupont Circle after I arrived on Saturday evening, watching some of his rehearsals at Wolf Trap for what promises to be a really lovely production of Alcina in which Jeremy is playing continuo, catching up with some very good friends on Sunday evening, and a relaxed day in DC on Monday before I headed to the airport to head back to San Francisco. Being back in Wolf Trap was a treat, the memories of finding my operatic footing during my own summers there mixing in with my glee at being able to actually touch and see Jeremy in person. After a quiet lunch today near Wolf Trap, I dropped Jeremy at his afternoon rehearsal, and we had a lingering goodbye in the parking lot. He walked in to play more Handel, and I made my way into the District.
Sitting in a café near George Washington University, while I sipped on my lemonade, a close friend from my childhood and I were chatting about life and her relationship with her current boyfriend. She, an anthropologist, looked at me and marveled, "I think all the time about how you and Jeremy manage to sustain your relationship when you are apart so much of the time."
"It's not like this all the time, just a lot of the time."
"Still, it's a lot, and it must be hard," she said.
"It is hard," I replied, "but we manage and we make it work. You just have to make it work, in the end. That still doesn't stop me from feeling sad on days like this when I have to say good-bye."
After our lemonades, I made my way to the airport. Sitting at the gate, waiting to board my plane, I gazed out the window at the pinkish-blue sky, thankful, despite a little sadness, for the days with Jeremy. It's beyond priceless to feel this re-centered, recharged, and reminded of how much I am lucky to be loved.