I embark upon any trip with people that are not in my age demographic with trepidation. In this case, I risk my sanity once again by traveling with the Sacred Heart Chamber Singers, this time to Our Nation’s First Capitol, Home of the Cheesesteak and superior brand-name cream cheese, Philadelphia. While I put my mental health entirely upon my students’ lousily-postured shoulders, I place my physical well-being into the hands of our bus driver, who manages to successfully maneuver the mechanical equivalent of a Killer Whale through the narrowest alleyways and poorly-designed tourist destination parking lots without too much cursing.
It’s been a long day and to be perfectly honest, I ought to be sandwiched between abrasive hotel sheets, sawing sloppily away at rough-hewn logs instead of sitting bug-eyed in front of my laptop. But it was one of those days that couldn’t have been more perfect, should such a thing as perfection exist. We froze to death on the silliest tours ever conjured up by a company, the Duck Tours, but laughed (and quacked) ourselves silly, and learned a little bit in the process. We learned that a good bus driver is certainly hard to find, and ours graciously offered to drive back into downtown so the girls who’d left their spending money on the bus would be able to shop without borrowing. We presented a “concert” at Immaculate Mary Nursing/Rehabilitation Center and I couldn’t stop thinking about these old souls sitting before us, some in wheelchairs, some not really sitting, but slumped over to the side, in a questionable state of consciousness. I was seized by the impulse to reach out to them, to say something besides “thanks for having us!” But nothing profound came to mind, so I decided to leave my camera behind instead. Again, bus driver to the rescue.
We had the honor of singing for the 5:15 Mass at the Basilica Cathedral of Saints Peter and Paul, a place with the best acoustics and most stunning interior we have ever sang in. The girls will have to “suffer” through another Palm Sunday Passion reading tomorrow, when we sing at Our Lady of Lourdes Rectory and offer our musical gifts yet again for always-appreciative listeners. I hope the girls will remember this trip as fondly as I will, and not just the sights and sounds of Philly. For me, the best part without question has been the two-and-a-half hours I spent in the hotel lobby talking with these lovely young ladies, being silly with them, being (hopefully) insightful with them, sharing a little bit of gossip and letting them see what a grown-up girl can turn into. Most definitely not perfect, but not too off-the-mark, either.