a wandering woman writes

Thursday, March 09, 2006

True Story

Oh God, she's musing with the pen again.....

There was a time I barely remembered that space.

That meditative, out of myself space where wordless images and impulses and waves of emotion flow freely. Brain switched off, notes floating around me like a charmed snake summoned out of her basket….rising, swaying, levitating round the room. Sometimes I suspect that charmed snake is actually me, a part of me I’ve only just gotten to know. Could be.

I’d seen my pianist father enter that space. And my piano teacher, Mr. Fransosi, once told me he’d never tire of watching me “leave him” as I started into a piece I loved.

But he worried about my tongue.

It seems that whenever I dove headfirst into a piece I loved and felt and knew, my tongue emerged, peeking tip first out of the left corner of my mouth. And it stayed there.

I suppose my socially questionable creative habit really shouldn’t have surprised us. Creativity had always been a solitary activity for me and my piano playing was no exception. I’d pound out my pieces for at least an hour a day, always alone, my brother barricaded in the basement with the doors shut fast, struggling to follow Captain Kirk’s dialogue while he prayed for a sister who’d be filled with a passion for knitting. Or reading quietly. My father, who ran a music contracting business, would still be at his office, and my mother out on errands.

One day, with high school looming in my immediate future, Mr. Fransosi decided I might someday want to play in public, and he gently coaxed me to break the habit. In high school it got even easier to keep the tongue in line. I played in ensembles and orchestras. I learned to stay conscious enough to anticipate the singer’s next move, and catch the musical softballs tossed by my fellow musicians. Playing became less about my own cathartic physical release - less about that instant dissipation of tension and isolation as I touched the first key—and more about the sound I made.

And of course, academia called. I’d find myself worrying about algebra in the middle of a sonata. Daydreaming about how Tess of the Dubervilles might end as my friends and I recreated Billy Joel. I earned good grades and signed up to study science in college. Creative tasks gave way to analytical thinking, to a brief career in chemistry and a gradual move into corporate sales and marketing. Before long I was always aware of what I was doing and exactly how I looked. And I seldom played the piano.

In Spain, I have finally relaunched my daily piano outings. It’s been a slow, hard climb. I am certainly not the pianist I was at 18, nor have I yet been able to leave my sheet music behind. I see little sign of the fierce musical talent that drove my father’s life and career.

But, oh! I do know how to find that space he loved.

The other day I glanced away from a Piazzola tango just long enough to catch a glimpse of myself in the woodframed mirror on my living room wall. And there she was, tucked into a dimple at the left side of my mouth, a bold pink flag, announcing absolute and joyous surrender.

My tongue.

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  • Good for you!!

    By Anonymous Alex, at 10:11 AM  

  • Oh my dear, you are just slapping me silly today.
    Okay, okay...
    Where in the heck did my life go? Thanks for all the reminders here and I did leapfrog right over your birthday and your last day at work.
    I'm so sorry to be so behind on your life.
    Feels like I've been washed out to sea.
    But you tossed me a lovely little life preserver here.
    Love you.

    By Blogger Laura Young, at 3:17 PM  

  • You must be related to my Hubby. He doesn't play piano, but he does that tongue thing anytime he has to concentrate.

    By Blogger hobbes, at 2:05 AM  

  • You write so beautifully. Thanks

    By Blogger Kate Winner, at 5:17 PM  

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