The Lament of the Artist – a 4-part series of personal stories…
Part III – Pianos Can Talk
I’ve come to relish the junctures in life where you float in limbo – you turn a corner and can’t quite remember where you are or how you got there – which way is east and which way is west. The swell in your heart searches for a place to unload and leads you to an opening you never knew existed. If you stay quiet and look even harder, a sign appears…
One New Years Eve, I was home in Connecticut, alone and feeling melancholy. My children and then-husband had gone out to the movies and I had stayed behind. The solace of art tugged at me – a quick fix. The only problem was that a month before, I had decided to close my studio and then dumped every art supply I owned in a heap on my basement floor. Everything I would have needed – glue, paint, drills, scissors, board, paper and thread lay in plain sight – but the pile had a forcefield around it. I couldn’t touch it. As with all my discarded incarnations, the tools were hexed, like disowned parts of myself. I was not going to be able to use them to help me.
So I wandered. I wandered about the silent house. I carried my stream of consciousness like a handful of eggs, searching for a place to nest. The old, black, baby grand piano waved in the dim light.
“Hey, remember when you lived in that apartment in Boston and you used to play your roommate’s piano when she wasn’t home,” it offered. “Pretend it’s 20 years ago. Look out the 3rd floor window…sing that little lonely art song you wrote about the man walking on the sidewalk and his inside eye turned inside out…”
The piano had been dormant for decades, camouflaged in the everyday landscape of my living room. I slipped behind the keys and laid my fingertips over the chipped ivory. I didn’t read music and my hands lacked lessons. But desperate to express, I fumbled with layers of sound until chords flowed. Out of the winding notes a melody emerged.
That New Years Eve, I wrote a song about a love between the wind and a tree in a garden. I scribbled on paper scraps with the careless urgency of telling. I had crossed the hurdle of writing, only for the next to appear.