Monday, October 28, 2013

The Piano

When I was four, a baby grand piano was delivered to our house.  The piano movers left it in the entry, and all the neighborhood kids crowded onto the bench and banged away at the keys.  My mom let us, and she will forever be my hero for letting half a dozen sticky-fingered kids wail away on her ebony and ivory (really) piano.  And for a whole host of other things.

I remember being in my undies and a tee shirt, just on my way to a nap, enchanted with the  magic thought that this was ours, that I could play the piano when ever I wanted.

When I woke up from my nap, the piano was in a corner of the living room, looking like it was born there.  It has lived in a corner of my mom's living room ever since.

I don't ever remember not being able to play.  Debbie was - and is - way better - I remember recitals at Mrs Hinman's, in a dark serious room with solemn parents on black bleacher seats.  I remember being terrified, and amazed at how accomplished and calm my sister Debbie was.

Every Christmas there would be carols around the piano, one year with the local music teacher whose wife taught with mommy, most years with my sisters playing.  I remember late summer afternoons with the windows open playing to the birds.  

For years I have played when ever I visited.  And for years my mom has been saying "Why don't you take the piano?"  We even made a paper template, so I could see where it would fit.

Finally I was ready - I was going to put it in my office and ditch my drafting desk.  My friend Cathy came to visit and said "But the piano belongs in the living room!  It will turn your office into the piano closet.  It needs to go in the living room."  

"But there's no place to put it" I said.

"Move that chest out into the entry.  Now move that chair, and put this chest where the chair was.  Those two chairs go in the dining room, and the piano goes there."  So simple, so hard to see.  Thank you Cathy.
So I called mommy and said "Okay, I'm ready for the piano" and she said "Nope.  I've changed my mind.  You can't have it."

Oops.  I looked into renting one with the option to buy if I liked it. Our piano has a very different feel, not at all like the resistance you get from a new piano.  This one is well loved, and familiar.  It's family.

The next morning mommy called and said "Please call the piano movers before I get all crazy again."  Not crazy, just a huge change.  That piano has been her companion for more than half her life.  
It has only been a few weeks, but it feels like the piano has been there forever.  And I play every chance I get, in stolen moments waiting for Wally to put his shoes on so we can walk the dog, at night before bed.  I'm getting better.  And I'm loving it. We all need a creative outlet.  I have been sketching again (more on that later), but there is nothing like playing the piano, and I can feel a shift in the ground beneath my feet.

So here is my gift to you: do something different, something artistic.  Something you're not good at.  Something embarrassing and scary.  Do it in private, do it for yourself.  Carry a sketchbook, play the saxophone late at night when no one can hear.  Squeak away.  Learn to blow glass.  Write a story.  Do something creative - it will feed your soul.  And it will change the way you feel about the world.  For the better.   That's a promise.

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