This week’s assignment was to write a post about a sound or scent that brings you right back to your past.
*Disclaimer – my wonderful writing partner and editor did not get a chance to see this. It was a last minute submission and therefore she should not be stoned for missing my standard errors.
**Below I speak of a song. To hear my favorite interpretation click HERE
Ivory notes of “What Child Is This” hung in the air and every part of me wanted to snatch the harmony back. My fingers poised in perfect position.
Trained. Willing. Stopped.
I look back now and I see that it had been a hard day. I now have children so I understand the pushed feeling. Today I have no recollection of what was said, how it started or how it ended. I only know that moment.
My dad had spoken sharply to me. He wanted me to stop playing the piano.
I had been at this song for almost the full amount of time that was set on the oven timer. Rushing through the notes as I always did for the achingly slow Christmas Carol. For me it wasn’t about perfecting the song, it was about giving it my own rhythm. Fur Elise came out like a rock song for me. Putting On The Ritz I spun into lounge music. I even learned how to hang over backwards on the hard piano bench and play upside down; never looking at the keys. Someone else wrote the song, but it was mine to interpret. I loved when I finally heard me in every song.
I am not sure that I was the first to express interest in piano lessons. I remember the looming box always sitting in the corner and one day I began to play. Next thing I remember is sitting beside Ms. Watson getting my knuckles hit over and over while my mom waited in the car at the curb. Ms. Watson and her gnarled fingers couldn’t play much anymore herself, but a stern, wise teacher she was. She had a way of coaxing me to let the music play through me. Instead of focusing on Allegretto or Adiago, she instructed me to play the beat of my heart.
She would chastise me for watching the clock at times, impatient to get on with life.
“Bloom where you are planted.” she would say.
I have always hated that saying. I don’t believe a palm tree can bloom just because it is planted in the arctic. I believe sometimes you have to decide where you are best suited and pull up your own roots. Bloom because you are so happy with where you are that you can’t help but unfurl your petals.
That hard wooden bench was certainly not where my energetic body wanted to be planted, but bloom I did. I learned each song, each note was a feeling. I could make it whisper as a lover, welcome you as a friend or cry out in personal torture. I took each troubled emotion that a maturing girl stumbles into and poured it into a song.
With all my passion for the notes I could caress, I couldn’t bring myself to put another finger down that moment. I felt my bloom fade a little and my petals begin to pull back in.
I sat in silence and he moved on to do something else. My timer hadn’t gone off yet releasing me to perform anything else, so I starred a hole into the sheet music.
I tentatively struck a note and paused. In my next breath, the haunting notes of the song began to come alive. Slow and with purpose. As the song wove into the air, my tears finally began to fall. The melody of disappointment.
Disappointment in self.
Disappointment in a parent.
The song reaches out year after year through the radio or through my own fingers. The slow notes still contain an ache, but I’ve come to embrace the feeling. I allow the sadness to wash through me and recognize that although disappointment is a part of this life, its not the ending note.
People will fail you.
You will fail others.
I have the choice to continue playing, for me alone. To make every life song my own and bloom.
*Author’s notes: In the note I do not want it mistaken that my father and I have a turmoiled relationship. This was merely a take on the prompt. My daddy and I are good! This was a moment that my dad was having a hard time (as adults get from time to time) and I had my heart on my sleeve (as young girls get from time to time)
Also, one of my favorite moments with Ms. Watson was years after I stopped taking lessons from her. I was volunteering at a nursing home and ran into her, a new resident. In the lobby there was a piano and we sat down together. I played a few songs for her and showed her that although she had quit instructing me; I never quit learning. At that time I was deep into teenage rebellion, but beside her at that moment…I bloomed.