Five weeks is a very long time to be away from home. While I’ve enjoyed all the things I’ve been doing, I’m ready to drive my car back into its own garage and close the door for a while, maybe even for the entire summer. I’m eager to embrace my dogs and my cat. I want my own brand of coffee in a real mug instead of a house blend in a slit-lidded, to-go cup. I want my desktop computer and its peripherals, my swivel chair, and I want to be able to stay in my PJs until noon or later.
There’s no place like home. There’s no place like home. There’s no place…
With or without ruby red slippers, I am making my way back home. Five whirlwind, but enjoyable, weeks of judging piano auditions (=425 pianists, approximately 2900 pieces of music, and signing my name at least 1275 times) have really tested my abilities in terms of navigating through mental congestion and a non-negotiable schedule. I’ve realized certain things about myself that I hope to reform and rehabilitate by taking on a period of solitude and deliberate consciousness.
Czeslaw Milosz says that love, song, blood, and travel are “the four basic desires of the human heart.” I think that home should be included in Milosz’s list, either in leaving or returning or maybe both. I know I have certainly experienced each of Milosz’s desires during the last five weeks, but the backdrop for each has been something of home, either in the form of a person(s), a place, or a thing.
This journey isn’t quite over but nearing its end; and right now in this instance, for me, it is about the destination–home.
However, I’m glad to have been part of the busy-ness that swallowed me up in mid-April and kept me on the move. Although I’m very tired, I’m equally grateful to have been immersed in a place and a purpose. And I’ve collected rewards along the way, including hearing three severely autistic, yet amazing, young pianists. I also heard a child who was deaf in one ear and severely imparied in the other who played with the grace of a butterfly. And perhaps the most matured, most advanced pianist was from Russia. She played well with only a few stumbles. Her repertoire was impressive and she played with outstanding musicianship, but what impressed me more was that in addition to her music skills she was a physician with a full-time practice in internal medicine. I also met a set of 10-year twins from Charlotte who first caught my attention with their looks and their last names. They had a stunning resemblance to the Tucker men in my mom’s family. As it turned out they were, indeed, young Tucker men and my distant cousins.
My five-week excursion also included traveling to DC with my oldest daughter and 18-month old grandson for my younger daughter’s grad school graduation. Traveling with a toddler is anything but boring. Every rock on the sidewalk is something to stop for and look at. And bumper-to-bumper traffic is amusing for tots whose favorite words are truck, bus, and tractor.
Now homeward bound, I’ve stopped to rest a few days in the mountains of NC, and the days continue to surprise me. Did you know that a single cicada makes a growling sound and that a whole fleet of them cuts through the early dawn like a buzz saw? Now that is something that doesn’t happen very often. I have probably heard a cicada before; but I’m sure I haven’t taken the time to actually listen to their congregational swan song.
I’ve done everything I set out to do except: I didn’t get the tattoo (although I did go to the tattoo shop); I didn’t get a new Georgetown hooded sweatshirt to replace the one I’ve worn out; and I missed out on seeing a few old friends that I’d hope to visit in DC. Otherwise, the trip has been a success. So in a couple of days I’ll drive about 100 miles closer to home, and then a couple of days after that I’ll go the distance and finally pull my buggy into the garage.