So, what was it like?
In a word – incredible.
Miraculously, I was able to sleep the night before. After two nights of less-than-ideal sleep and anxious tossing and turning, I managed to sleep for an almost blissful 10 hours. I was quite dead to the world, lost in my surreal subconscious.
As I slowly started the morning, I went about my usual routines. I read the news on my iPhone while I debated getting out of bed. I got up and drank a cup of coffee while I wrote my morning pages. As I wrote my pages, I felt my heart rate start to pick up speed, adrenaline starting to course through my veins. It’s ten in the morning, I thought, am I going to feel like this all day? My daily horoscope was waiting for me, as usual, in my email. In what seemed like an eerily apt theme for the day, it encouraged me to have courage in expressing myself.
A couple of hours later, I went to a yoga class downtown, in an attempt to get my body warmed up for the day. I unknowingly signed up for a beginners’ class and was frustrated that it wasn’t more challenging. As the teacher implored us to let go and focus on our breathing, my mind was screaming silently, “I don’t want to let go of anything right now! I want vigorous poses and flow!” I was like a racing horse, restless at the gate, anxiously waiting for the starting gun to fire. After the unsatisfying yoga class, I rushed back to the gym in my apartment to spend some time on the treadmill – where I noticed that when my mind wandered to the evening’s performance, my heart rate would jump up to around 165.
Maybe that yoga class was just what I needed that afternoon, after all.
When I got to the hall, the stage manager greeted me, “Hey, Buddy! It’s good to see you again!” putting me a bit at ease. He remembered me from my previous times singing in the hall, and the strange dichotomy of the familiarity of the hall and the sense of routine that entailed combined with the pressure of it being my “Recital Debut” (yes, capitalized) at “Carnegie Hall” sunk in. I took a moment to be grateful for the familiar faces and surroundings – I don’t know how I would have coped without those comforts there.
Before I knew it – we were off. The first half of the program whizzed past, and by intermission the extremes of bouncing back and forth between excitement and nervousness were starting to wear off, and I noticed that we were really having fun. In the second half, as we started “The Last Rose of Summer”, I looked around the audience, and took in just how many people were there from so many different parts of my life. I suddenly realized that the Last Rose isn’t just about the death of loved ones – I realized that it is also a commitment to enjoy every single second we have with those people important to us while we still have the time on earth together. I looked around the auditorium and saw my parents, my aunt, family friends who took had taken bets on when I would be born, my closest friends from my adolescence, friends from Marlboro, from my Houston Grand Opera Studio days, from my days at the University of Michigan, in addition to friends from this most recent stage of my life in New York. Then I thought of all of the teachers and friends who have passed on, and whom I have had to let go over the years. It occurred to me that with so many of my loved ones spread out all over the world, and with the complexities of life’s logisitics, it can be so difficult to be together, and it dawned on me that the most special part of the evening was that I was able to share that incredible moment with so many people whom I love.