The quote “You are human beings, not human doings” has been attributed to various sources – little wonder, really, as we can all relate in times of intense activity. Indeed, until quite recently, I’ve felt like a tetherball with Luxembourg as the pole, constantly spiraling towards and away by rail and by plane. I think I was home for something like 15 days between May and the end of August, mostly in 36-hour chunks, emptying one suitcase and packing another. Two of my suitcases are nearly the same size for just this purpose. Endless gratitude to Kerry for putting up with Suitcase A on the bedroom floor while Suitcase B was on a conveyor belt in some airport. Summer 2012 was particularly dizzy. A combination of professional engagements and family-related visits led me to Japan (twice), Oregon, San Antonio, England and Scotland, Thailand and UAE. There’s a beauty and freshness to travel and to the feeling of being a part of the international cultural scene as well as opportunities for growth and connection with other people and places. I’m so grateful for all the experiences I have had and wouldn’t trade those memories for the world.
At one point after popping home for one night then rushing off to catch a train to another airport for two long-haul flights in a row to Asia, I just wanted to weep. (That came, eventually, late at night in a high-rise hotel room on the other side of the planet.) Somewhere in the world, people were leading normal lives, cooking dinner at home for their families, doing a yoga course on Wednesday nights, leaving their instruments in lockers in the brass room of the concert hall, growing herbs on the balcony…
Then, in rapid succession, two events changed the course of the near future. The first involved our landlord deciding to sell our flat so that we had to find another place to live. Moving house has been physically and emotionally taxing in more ways than we could have foreseen, as well as having the extra burden of giving up our large rent-controlled place in Strassen. We had to downsize or move further out of town, so we chose to find a smaller, albeit more expensive, apartment. For much of the move preparation, I was commuting back and forth from a gig playing first horn on Schoenberg’s mammoth “Gurrelieder” with the Beethoven Orchestra in Bonn, playing a rehearsal, taking the next train home, packing several boxes, then catching the early train the next day for an afternoon call back in Germany….Now that all is said and done, we’re living in a gorgeous renovated 1950’s apartment in one of our favorite neighborhoods in Luxembourg City. It’s full of light and charm, about a 10-minute walk from downtown. What seemed painful at the time has ended up being a wonderful thing.
Around the same time this move was going on, I was offered a 75%, 2-year position playing 2nd horn in the OPL (Orchestre Philharmonique du Luxembourg, where Kerry and many of my good friends work.) The opportunity came more or less out of the blue, just when I was longing for a more stable situation and more time at home. Since then, the position has morphed into a Wechselhornstelle (position playing 2nd and 3rd horn.)
We took probably a dozen trips to the local recycling center, getting rid of “stuff” we didn’t have room for anymore. Though we loved many of the items we threw into giant bins or sent off to be sold on consignment, each time we let go of another load I felt this enormous sense of relief and freedom, a release of pure energy. Our excess possessions and attachments make it harder for us to breathe, to move, to fly. Likewise, though I’ll be traveling less in the coming months, my new job feels liberating too (not counting three trips to the States in a row this coming spring, but that’s the subject of another blog!)
So… what will I do with all the time at home now? Cook for my family and friends, grow herbs on the balcony, leave my horn in my locker at the Philharmonie, certainly. Perhaps I’ll even do that Wednesday evening yoga class.