At a cruising altitude of
37,000 feet my life feels different. Time stands still in a cell phone free vortex. Intermittent turbulence is the only reminder that I’m defying gravity in a large metal Tylenol capsule…by choice. I feel alive, creative, and dreamy. It may be the lack of oxygen coupled with the subtle threat of potential death that fuels this creativity but I’ll take it where I can get it. I guess I just want to get it all out before I die and in an airplane, mortality somehow seems more imminent than normal.
I’ve been on 10 different planes this summer and have 4 more to go before I return to my more routine autumnal life where I am an itinerant braille teacher by day and professional singer by night. This increased travel is a welcome change to my usual low-key summer. It’s been my summer of saying yes to exciting opportunities and I don’t regret a single one.
In addition to the planes, I’ve also been on 1 cruise ship, 1 old timey steam ship, 2 sky trams, 4 scary Bermudian buses, innumerable equally scary NYC cabs, 2 subways, 2 ferries, a tandem bicycle with my blind students (I drove), a cranky alpha-type horse named Cheerio, 3 large vans, 1 Dodge Charger, and my trusty 2002 Honda Accord named Hugo. All of these vehicles brought me to some place that caused me to view the world differently because I had more information about it and for that, I’m grateful.
Here are some things I’ve learned during my travels thus far:
-The coffee in Louisville, New York, Bermuda, and Michigan does not compare to Portland (I’ll let you know about Greek coffee when I get back from Paros in September).
-The color of the sky during a tornado is indescribable and terrifying.
-I burn even with SPF 55 sunscreen on.
-Writing stories for 2nd graders is a good way to get in touch with your inner child and a great side job.
-Collective audience sobbing in a Broadway theater is a powerful experience.
-New Yorkers are resilient.
-The water surrounding Bermuda is as indescribable as the Louisville tornado sky, but much more inviting.
-I may not be able to pull off hats.
-Lake Michigan is warm, sandy, and lovely to swim in.
-Being up close to New York City Ballet dancers while they perform is breathtaking.
-Flying back home to PDX when it’s swathed in sunlight is stunning. You can almost touch Mt. Hood.
-New York bagels are incomparable. I believe it’s the 2:1 cream cheese to bagel ratio.
Perhaps my favorite part of traveling is witnessing the gamut of human emotion from strangers. I see this raw emotion particularly in airports and on planes because people are too stressed,tired, and cranky to edit so their vulnerability shows like a neon bra strap. I’ve seen random acts of kindness, ugly tantrums (by both adults and children), crying, laughing, loving, hating, spilling, sleeping, but most of all, living. This is the gritty good stuff of life and the kinds of experiences that inform a lot of the programming choices I make for The Julians.
Given the nature of my jobs, I do much of my heavy Julians thinking/planning while in transit so it was especially helpful to have the extra vehicular time this summer given our transition as a group. Much of my preliminary arranging takes place in Hugo the car as I listen to songs that I like, and think about various voicings, harmonies, instrumentation, and programming of them for our concerts. It’s fortunate for others that share the road with me that my multi-tasking skills are above average.
All of these travels have left me feeling more well-rounded and refreshed. I look forward to where we Julians are headed and mostly feel lucky to have such a vibrant creative outlet and such lovely and talented women to make music with.
So this summer of yes, (despite my recurring nightmare of driving off a bridge and drowning in a car) I salute the myriad of vehicles in my life for transporting me out of my routine and expanding my world. I couldn’t have done it without them.