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The long way home

Leaving the quasi goodwill of the workweek behind, I navigate quickly through Friday traffic toward WAMC on Albany’s Central Avenue.

Friend, neighbor, and volunteer coordinator Katie Horn awaits in the parking lot. She’s invited me to my first concert at Tanglewood. I am excited — about Tanglewood, my first live encounter with the Boston Symphony Orchestra and Charles Dutoit, and especially about hearing Russian pianist Kirill Gerstein, “one of today’s most intriguing young musicians” (says Albert Imperato, Playbill Arts, July 16, 2010). Gunning for intrigue, I was determined not to be late!

I know that the return trip -– from Lenox to my home in Richmondville — will be twice as long as the trip to the concert. In preparation, I call the people who are to work at my house the following morning and declare a moratorium for the weekend. Getting the house on the market has taken on a life of its own and I just don’t want to return from what I anticipate will be a memorable evening to face unenthusiastic workmen in the morning.

I precede the drive to Lenox, Mass., with a haircut at the recently opened Paul Mitchell salon down the block from Proctors. It is an exhilarating experience -– especially for one accustomed to no-frills cuts. The 10-minute head massage almost does me in! Through the water rinsing my hair, I overhear that the salon offers pet care products and services. Whodathunkit?

I make time for a second visit to Café Nola on Union Street. Both times for lunch and both times delicious. Have already added it to my list of places I can now recommend.

Once on the road, Katie and I catch up on developments in our lives. We’re both from Schoharie County. She’s new at WAMC; I recently started at Proctors. We both commute in varying degrees of satisfaction, related to weather, road conditions and outstanding tasks at either end of the trip. Midday through a shared laugh, we see that two trucks in front of us are swerving. Hard to tell what the…

In an instant, I run head-on into a tractor-trailer tire. Before we can react, we hear/see it ejected from under the car in a splay of pieces. Other cars swerve and scatter. We say nothing in the stun of the moment. The car is still moving, so we keep moving – in silence, calculating what happened, what could have happened. I had just picked up the car on Monday after installation of a new transmission. I drive fearful of any thoughts that I may have to prosecute to a natural conclusion….

Arriving in Lenox, I park so that we both can examine the damage. We see little. Something dripping, but it is clear. I pull a piece of something resting against the tire – the cause of the smell that began to creep into the passenger compartment following The Tire Affair! Still dazed, we move on. We ask passers-by for restaurant recommendations.

We head toward the inviting Alta Restaurant and Wine Bar on Church Street, and immediately wash the grease from our hands. The palpitations of the past 30 minutes fade into happy times as we opt for dinner at the bar and ad hoc entertainment from an enthusiastic barkeep. We order an array of appetizers and relish each one. A vacationing couple from Canada joins us and the conversation becomes global. Within the half hour, a couple from Saratoga arrives. They tell us that they have rented their house for the racing season and have come to Lenox for some weekend R&R. More good conversation ensues followed by air kisses, handshakes and laughter as befits those with Tanglewood in mind.

Unloading our spider-laced lawn chairs, we are mesmerized by those around us loading carts and dollies with designer blankets, opulent chairs, appropriate tables, and candles. Should we have consulted Martha before packing? Having never been here before, we ask those who appear to be frequent visitors if we should choose the lawn or in the Koussevitzky Shed. Since Katie has tickets for the Shed, they suggest we start on the lawn… Finding a location under an ancient Beech tree, we watch as hundreds set up for what seems to be a full-scale party or night on the lawn.

Following Glinka’s “Overture to Ruslan and Ludmila,” we realize we want to see conductor Charles Dutoit; we want to see the force behind the magical sounds that punctuate the cooling night air. Leaving our things on the lawn, we hurry to Katie’s seats in the Shed. We settle in time for Tchaikovsky’s “Piano Concerto No. 1” with pianist Kirill Gerstein. The performance was powerful, nuanced, and expressive. We jump to our feet in applause with everyone in the shed. We delight in music from Prokofiev’s “Romeo and Juliet” as we mentally contemplate the long road home.

In Albany, I drive to Katie’s car in the lot of The Linda. Although exhausted, we are reluctant to call it a night. In separate cars, we drive to the Gateway Diner. We linger and laugh over too many breakfast items mingled with recollections of our former lives. It’s well after midnight. We’ve both been up for 18 hours. We’re giddy with delight at having escaped the parameters that rule our work-a-day lives.

“Just think, Katie,” I say. “If I lived in Schenectady, I’d be home in 20 minutes!”

We say goodnight and begin the hour trip to our separate homes in picturesque Schoharie County. I take heart knowing that my move to Schenectady already is under way!

Thom O’Connor lives in Richmondville and works at Proctors. Lord willin’ and the creek don’t rise, he plans to bring his planned move to Schenectady to fruition as soon as market conditions permit.


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