February 21, 2003

The Piano

I blog from my couch. I guess if you saw the picture in the NY Times article, you've guessed that. I write on a laptop in what has to be the most unhealthy position for a spine you can imagine. I am the anti-ergomatic. I never had a choice really. Four years of simultaneous child rearing and working from home puts you in some precarious positions. A deadline is a deadline, and so, you work around the the general household insanity until one day you surrender to it, sit down on the couch, and say, Okay, I'll work from here.

Across from the couch is our piano. It was my father's piano--he bought it when i was three I think. An Ivers & Ponds baby grand. And while you may think, hey, nice that you have a baby grand, anyone who has had the responsibility of a piano for more than 20 years as I have can tell you--it's like owning a baby elephant that sings. I don't play--I goof around on it. George, of course, gets much use on it as he sometimes writes on the piano.

But the thing about pianos is moving them.

It's no small task, a huge expense, something you have to plan in advance for, and something you have to design one entire room of your house around.

I have moved this piano no fewer than 9 times since it officially became mine at age 18. There was the apartment it barely fit in. There wasn my English teacher who gave it a foster home for a year because no moving company would take it up the winding stairway framed with stained-glass windows. There was the house where it had a living room all to itself. And many more journeys.

When I think about moving, I think about the piano. And when I think about the piano, I think I'll never move again.

And yet, because it is something that touched my father's hands, because I have tapes of him pulling chords and notes so beautiful from it, I can never let it go. I can get back to that place in an instant, me on the piano stool him kneeling beside me, me stretching my legs down trying to reach the pedals, and finally being able to.

There is something about instruments, especially those made of wood. I have seen and held many, played a few (badly), and I know when an instrument is special. I have felt the presence of pre-played notes, that tingle that lets you know a piece of someone who touched it has been absorbed in the wood. If you listen very closely, you can almost hear the echos reverberating from 10, 20, 30, 40, 50 years ago. It is a primal and joyous thing.

I'm tired, it's 5:13, and sleep won't come, my eye keeps driftin gover to the baby grand.

And I swear I can hear something.

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