And so this week’s moment of happiness despite the news.
On July 7, 2017, I wrote this for my Today’s Moment:
And now, every time I pass a piano, I stop and look at it. That’s the instrument I always wanted to play. But beyond lunchtime renditions of Heart and Soul in the chorus room in high school, it never happened.
But I always thought it could. I thought I could do it.
I think I might want a piano for my birthday. I think I might want to learn. And even if I couldn’t, I could play Heart and Soul. Over and over. With heart. With soul. I could teach Olivia and we could play it together.
That piano never materialized. Not last year’s birthday. Not this year’s. And then today happened.
Perusing through Facebook a few days ago, I saw that Olivia’s first grade teacher (and also the mother of one of my son’s best friends and the mother of my daughter Katie’s first boyfriend) posted a photo of a piano. She said she was giving it away for free. She said it was hard to let go, and she was sad, but it was time for it to find another good home.
I credit that teacher with turning the magic key that helped Olivia finally understand how to read. She was six years old and she was struggling. And she was unhappy that other kids in her class were already reading chapter books. She was hearing chapter books, which we read to her every night. The Junie B. Jones series was her favorite. But at times, I would find her sitting on the couch, holding a Junie B. Jones book open in her lap, and she’d have the most bewildered look on her face. She wanted to read. But she couldn’t make sense of the words.
And then her teacher gave her a book about a frog. I wish I could remember the name. The print was large and dark and there was only one word on each line. The illustrations bright, but not predominant and overwhelming, distracting from the words. And the “chapters” were only one page each. For whatever reason, Olivia lit up. She caught fire. She tore through that book, and then more by the same author. By the end of that school year, she was reading Junie B. Jones and more.
And now, years later, Olivia is a budding writer, artist and musician, playing four instruments – the violin, the acoustic guitar, the electric guitar, and the ukulele.
And here was her teacher with a piano.
Now I have to admit, the piano isn’t all for Olivia. You can see that last year, I wrote that I always wanted to play the piano. I have. My brother played the organ, and when I asked to learn piano, my parents said we already had a Hammond in the house and a built-in teacher, so I could just do that. Well, that didn’t go so well. It just wasn’t what I wanted to do. It wasn’t who I was. Who I am.
I arranged to have the piano transported to my home. Olivia’s teacher asked me for the colors of my living room and then she recovered the piano bench in coordinating material and made a matching runner for the top.
And now, there is a piano in my living room. I wasn’t even all the way down the stairs to show the movers out when I heard the first plinks and plunks. It appears that Olivia’s first grade teacher has turned the key to another facet in her brain.
I sat on the stairs for a few minutes and listened. The plinks and plunks weren’t music yet. But they will be. Just like the letters on the page weren’t words yet, there for a while. But they are now.
I got out the Liquid Gold, my mother’s ever-ready furniture-ER-in-a-spray-can, and I polished that piano to a high shine. When I dusted the keys (sans Liquid Gold), I plinked and plunked myself. I haven’t actually pulled out the bench yet, haven’t seated myself, haven’t laid my hands on the keys. Though I did stand next to a seated Olivia and played a rousing chorus of Chopsticks.
Hello, Piano. You’ve come to another good home. You are going to be well-loved. Again. Hello, long-standing wish.
I’m gonna play. So is Olivia.
And yes, that helps. Despite. Anyway.