Monday, December 21, 2009

This is the birthday that was

How I planned to spend my 36th birthday:

After the NYRO concert on Saturday night, have a quick drink at the bar, then run home to get about five hours sleep. Wake up at 5 AM, go to the airport, fly to Pittsburgh, go to the Steelers-Packers game. Eat at Primanti Brothers, drive back to the airport, sleep at the hotel, and fly back to New York on Monday morning.

What really happened:

Saturday's blizzard didn't seem so bad in the afternoon. Holly and I continued to plan our trip all day, working out minor details over IM. I got ready for the concert and was on my way out the door when Jess told me that she'd heard that someone's flight out of JFK on Sunday had already been canceled. I checked JetBlue's website and our flight out had been canceled too. It wasn't even 6 PM on Saturday and the trip was off. I resolved to go and play a great concert and worry about the game later.

The concert was fantastic. Getting the chance to play Saint-Saens' "Organ" Symphony was a thrill I had waited twenty years to experience. When the organ thundered that massive C major chord to start the finale, I had a huge smile on my face. The floor of St. Mary's shook with the force of the organ and the power of the brass behind me. Between them, I could have played "Yankee Doodle" and no one would have heard me. After the concert, we had a few drinks with my friends from the orchestra and discussed our plan for Sunday. While I was disappointed that we weren't going to make it to Pittsburgh for the game, I was happy to be able to sleep in on Sunday and relax on my birthday. And that's basically what happened. It was a leisurely morning, with birthday cake and omelets for breakfast. I went for a walk in the afternoon and saw families frolicking and sledding in the snow in Prospect Park. Then I went to James and Jess's apartment to watch the Steelers-Packers game and have dinner.

The game was not on in New York, so I listened to the first half online and then found a few underground sites where I could watch the FOX feed from overseas. And I was able to see the last few minutes of the game on their TV, when Mike Wallace caught a touchdown pass from Ben Roethlisberger with no time left on the clock. The booth review kept me from my customary touchdown dance, but I whooped and waved my Terrible Towel when the extra point won the game. I was happy the Steelers won, but I felt bad for the Packers and for Holly. However, I have every confidence we'll be watching the Pack in the playoffs in January, while the Steelers are at home wondering how their season got away from them.

So I never made it to Pittsburgh, and I have an expensive but worthless piece of unused card stock as a permanent reminder of a game I never attended. But I had a fantastic day here in New York anyway. It was a great way to start my 37th year on this planet.

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