It has been at least 6 years since I’ve played the piano, maybe more, but I’ve lost track of the time. My sister had asked me to do it for her last month, but I told her I didn’t remember anything in a hurried fashion, my attempt at not fully acknowledging how much it hurt me to realize it was true.
Today no one was home at my parent’s house and while I was only there to let the dogs out and gather my laundry my old piano sat there prominently against the hard wood floors as if it were whispering to me, asking me to play it, like it missed my hands. No one else in my family plays the piano, so it has sat alone and un-played for however long it’s been since my fingers last tapped its keys. I tried to ignore the urge to sit at it, knowing I’d have to face the reality of all I’ve lost since we last met, but in the end I found myself dragging the bench against the floor to take a seat.
I lifted the lid and sighed, my eyes moving between my sullen face in the mirror in front of me, the graduation pictures of my sister and I on upright top, and its yellowed ivory keys – keys that were already chipped and aged 23 years ago when the piano was first given to me.
I brushed my hands across the keys without making a sound, remembering all the countless hours I’d spent in front of them practicing, how many times my father would ask me to play for him, how easy it all came to me as a child, and realizing how much more I missed it than I already thought I did.
My pointer finger bounced on a single key, over and over again, knowing it was out of tune. And I tried desperately to remember how to play something, or to pull a song from my mind that I wanted to play. I had always had an ear for music, the first song I’d ever played at 5 years old was a Van Halen song I’d heard my Uncle play for my father just minutes before I sat down inspired to do the same. This is when my parents put me in classes.
My fingers rested on the keys, my insides aching for the reward that came with playing, but I produced nothing. Could I even run them up a scale properly anymore? My now chubby fingers stumbled over themselves in the attempt and my hands fell into my lap defeated. But I wanted to hear them in use; I wanted to feel that sense of joy that playing used to bring me. So I tried again.
Still I produced nothing of value, playing keys so out of tune that even if they made sense together they didn’t with their distorted sounds. But I played, trying to will myself into remembering something, until I finally did.
It wasn’t something amazing, it was the intro to a dark and eerie piece I’d written and never finished, but I played it. I played it over and over again, my foot pressing the sustain pedal to give it the heavy feeling the song was originally meant to have.
After several minutes of this my fingers finally stopped. I sighed again, miserable over the fact that the once talented pianist I was was no longer a part of me. I wondered if it ever could be again. I closed the lid reluctantly and backed away from the piano feeling only one thought.
I miss my piano, I miss playing.
Peace – Sarah