Yes, this is Itzhak Perlman. This is also me and Ivan. This photo is less than twenty-four hours old.
This is one of the hardest posts I’ve ever written. Writing involves staring at my right hand and not at the picture above, you see.
You might remember my post last May about our pilgrimage to hear Mr. Perlman in concert – the consummation of 15 years of my trying to find a performance that was 1) in my area and 2) not too expensive. Our trip last spring verged on medically disastrous, but we did it nonetheless. Seeing him onstage was probably my finest post-accident moment.
That blog post on Itzhak Perlman found its way to…Itzhak Perlman. Hence the photo last night.
Mr. Perlman was in the Bay Area again last night for a concert experience called In the Fiddler’s House. The program celebrated music from several Jewish traditions, performed by the legend himself with a cohort of traditional instrumentalists and singers. Some email conflab with “the powers that be” established that if I could successfully attend the concert, I could also successfully meet my violin idol afterwards.
[Side note: If concert-going were still attainable – which it supposedly is not! – the program’s rich cultural offering would have tempted me to attend, even sans incentive. We embarked on a musical tour from centuries-old eastern European wedding music to more current Shabbat and/or Hasidic melodies. Apologies to all who are familiar with this music and might be laughing at my botched description! ;)]
Every journey has its beginning, so I will now rewind to yesterday morning at 10am. Ivan and I had “perfectly” engineered my activities so I wouldn’t get triggered before we hit the road at 3:45pm. Driving on the freeway is enough of a seizure death trap as it is. Apparently Murphy’s Law did not get that memo, because one of our apartment lights flickered a bit before noon and sent me into a decently bad seizure cycle. One rescue drug later found me dozing in bed while Mom played babysitter/nurse. Those pills knock me out for at least a couple of hours, and often irritate my brain for the rest of the day. We were past the point of no return as far as Mr. Perlman was concerned, however, so Ivan still rolled me out to the car and the car still rolled out into the rain at 3:45 as planned.
Somehow we made it into San Francisco without further incident. I may or may not have been blindfolded to cut out all light triggers, but a girl’s gotta do what a girl’s gotta do. I also may or may not have consumed a cappuccino at lunch and then a latte on the road, but who’s counting espresso shots? A girl’s gotta do what a girl’s gotta do. Caffeine staves off the TBI symptoms that are inevitable after seizures and/or a rescue drug. We pulled in front of Davies Concert Hall excessively early, but we desperately needed that curbside handicap space. A girl’s gotta do…you get the picture. Ivan rolled me into the lobby and I tried to doze with my eyes covered and my noise-canceling earbuds in place until the doors opened at 7pm.
The open doors revealed a contingency we had not counted on: our ADA spots (read wheelchair space next to caregiver seat) had been double-booked. My internal moan turned into an internal smirk since…guess who got installed in a box in the orchestra section instead? Ladies and gentlemen, I’d assumed that any exclusive seating area was not in the cards for me…ever…much less a box! Not a bad trade.
Labeling last night as “concert of a lifetime” is no overstatement. At one point, some (read “mostly all”) those in the main floor seating area got swept up by a medley of traditional wedding music and started dancing in the aisles. I kept my eyes shut for most of the concert because of possible light triggers, but Ivan says that people rushed down from the upstairs seating areas to join them. Apparently it took a few non-wedding songs to convince everyone to sit back down/go back up.
My brain survived til the end of the concert only by God’s grace. I did have some seizures, but they weren’t nearly as bad as those from the morning…most likely since the rescue drug was still in my system a little bit. It didn’t hurt that the klezmer program was shorter than a traditional symphony concert, and much quieter. Add some noice-reducing earbuds, covered eyes, lobby naps and…well folks, we made it!!!
I suddenly realized I had nothing intelligent to say when I was about thirty-six inches from reaching Mr. Perlman backstage. Thankfully he’s played thousands of concerts and met who-knows-how-many admirers throughout 60 years as a concert violinist. He knows my violin professor from my late high school and early college years, which was a useful icebreaker, and I gave a brief recap of who I was and what had happened to me. Parking wheel chairs as close as possible added a dash of comic relief, then – snap! – the (no-flash) photo you see above. I’m currently counting how many different walls on which I could hang said picture.
But you know what the best part is, my blogging friends? He signed my sheet music for the violin solo from Schindler’s List. The same sheet music Mom bought me when I was 12 years old. The same sheet music I practiced for my very first solo with a grownup orchestra. Now that‘s a keeper for a lifetime.