One of the weirdest, and perhaps hardest, things about being an opera singer is the way in which we are forced to conduct our social lives. Many non-singers I know have a small group of good friends with whom they spend a lot of time with. Sometimes these people have one other person, or couple, that they spend the majority of their time with, and sometimes it is a rotating group, but I would say that many normal humans have at least one someone that they socialize with at least every week or two.
With traveling opera singers, it is a totally different story. One of my wife's main frustrations with my career is, unquestionably, the schedule. I cannot join a club that meets regularly. I can't take a Tuesday night swing dance class. I can't even get together with friends and watch a specific TV show every week, because I know that for some large number of those weeks, I will not be around. I watch my TV in chunks saved up on the DVR, and I see local friends sporadically at best.
Instead of having a few close friends that I spend a lot of time with, I have hundreds of acquaintances (or "Facebook Friends" as they are now called) that I see rarely or never. These are people that I have probably spent a very brief, yet intense time with, and may never see again. They are scattered all across the country, and even the globe, and I'm sure I could crash on any of their couches in an emergency, just as sure as I know that they could crash on mine. However, we will not be joining any bridge clubs together any time soon.
The closest thing to this opera type of socialization that I can think of, is the way things work when I take my children to the playground. We show up to the playground, and check out who is playing. Ruby will run off and make some new friends and have a great time playing with them, often without learning their names, and at the end of the allotted playground time, we go home, and wonder if we will ever see those people again. The next time we go to the playground, it is likely that none of those same kids will be there, and yet there is still playing to be done, and a whole new group of kids to play with. Over time, maybe you discover that the one kid with the big ears is always there on Friday mornings, or sometimes that red-haired girl will be on the swings after four-o-clock, but there is never a guarantee. How can you make close connections with people that you may never see again? And yet every day, on playgrounds all over the country, kids are engaging in intense and very personal play with almost perfect strangers.
Tonight is the final performance of my current opera. Tomorrow morning I will start the long drive home, and all of the people that I have spent 8-12 hours a day with for the past 3 weeks will become part of my past. The next show I do, it is very probable that none of them will be there. It is also likely that I may run into one or two of them again sometime, at this company or another, and we will once again work together to put on a great show. If that happens, it would be great. I love seeing old friends and colleagues again. But even if I do see them again, it will be for another short period of hard work and then done. Opera is indeed a playground, and I can't think of anything more fun than putting a show together and performing it with a group of talented friends, but at the end of the day, we all go home. Guys, if we don't see each other again, I'm glad we at least got to play together this one time.