For as long as I have lived in Boston, leisurely Saturday mornings have had a unique effect on me. For some reason, when I walk down a neighborhood street in the cool of morning everything is right with the world and I am where I am meant to be. Maybe it’s that I am walking anywhere – where I grew up nothing was close enough to walk to, and any jaunt on foot implied a nature walk. Not that I didn’t love Saturday mornings growing up too – some of the most consistent memories of my childhood involve my mother making pancakes in the sunny kitchen while we all padded in and out, in our slippers or bare feet.
This morning I woke up with nothing to do. This is not a common occurrence. This academic year in particular has been extremely busy, as my singing and conducting have become less a hobby and more a second job. I won’t complain; being paid to do music is what I always wanted. Still, there’s a loss there, and the loss of leisure takes a toll. So today I slept in (to an hour which is still terribly early to most people) and then wandered out to get breakfast.
As soon as I hit the streets I got that feeling again. I live in a city! I sometimes think excitedly to myself. Not only do I live here, I have made it my home, and am friendly with the can lady next door, the guy with the construction truck, the folks who work at the funeral home around the corner. And on these quiet brisk mornings I am on the same pace as everyone else. I am not leaving the house in an audition dress and prom hair like I usually do on weekend mornings. I am in flip-flops and a ponytail, just like everyone else, easing into the day.
On my way home, egg sandwich and coffee in hand, I was passing near the post office and my stomach tightened up. My brain started racing: aren’t there applications I should be sending off? Do I need to be shipping a demo today? What’s next? What’s next? I remembered the competition application on my kitchen table, and that it’s not due until late May, and relaxed a little bit.
There’s a pithy adage that singers throw around when someone is spending too much time working: they don’t write songs about being in a practice room. In other words, if you want to make art, live a little. Similarly, they don’t write songs about being overworked, or about obsessive self-promotion. The artistic spark needs oxygen to flame.
That application sits next to me on the kitchen table now. I don’t have to sing until 3:30 today, so I’m not going to fret about the state of my voice until lunchtime at least. I’ll probably run today, but I might wait until the morning warms up a little. It’s a lazy Saturday, and there’s no hurry.