Tis the Christmas season and as I am writing this I have about 37 thoughts banging around in my head. I have to admit, I have never been a huge Christmas person. Sure I love buying presents for my loved and I love receiving presents for damn sure, but as for the rest - the music, decorations, mania, and general chaos of the season, well, not a fan. Not to mention awkward family events.
Thankfully, as I've gotten older I have been able to care less and less about what people think of me and more and more about how they interact with me. Do they take any interest at all in me as a person? Do they have any idea what I do? Have I spoken to them at any other time over the past year? I have a big family on both my dad and mom's sides. It's inevitable that I will be closer to some family members than others and I'm okay with that.
Growing up a musician in the family comes back to bite me in the ass every year. Sweet Jesus. I know I took piano lessons for my entire life and yes I went to music school. Yes I loved it and still do but I have absolutely no way to play on any type of regular basis and I haven't since I graduated from The Hartt School of Music in 2000. I was 22. I'm 34 now. That's 12 years of no piano or music of any kind in my life. This is not okay with me. I miss it - something I never thought I would say.
When I went to Hartt I was already insecure about my abilities. Being surrounded by people who are off the charts talented and driven will make that happen. I also didn't have the extensive music theory training a lot of my peers did. I took piano lessons, I was naturally good at it so I didn't have to practice for hours every day. It came pretty naturally. Until I had to perform or be put on the spot. My piano teacher at Hartt was kind of a nightmare. To this day I still have no idea what country she was from but she had an accent that made it hard to take her seriously and she clearly did not care about teaching me theory. She was a whiner you guys. I can't stand whiners. I spent most of my time with her trying not to say anything rude. It was a battle.
Having to play in front of juries every year killed me. I had horrible stage fright about playing and having to perform on command basically froze my fingers into stiff claws that refused to cooperate. I pretty much passed by the skin of my teeth and got out of that room as fast as possible, passing with C's was fine by me. Until my senior year when I was finally able to channel my dislike for my teacher and, by that point, my school, into some kind of piano rage. I practiced my ass off and when I went in for my senior jury I killed it. Killed the shit out of it. The jury members were shocked and excited and my teacher was speechless. Hah! Take that mean lady! The student you gave up on just made you look like an asshole (because I found out later you'd "warned" them I wasn't very good.)
Who got the "A"? This girl that's who! Suck it bitches!
And thus ended my piano career. I didn't follow the path I'd laid out for myself of a job in the music industry because by the time I was 22, I was over it. I outgrew it and wanted to do something meaningful with my life. So I took jobs that didn't pay squat, worked entry-level paraprofessional positions you didn't even need a college degree for, and purposely exposed myself to every sector of the mental health field I could get my hands on. I worked three jobs in special education at the same time my first year out of college. I was a paraprofessional in an alternative middle/high school, tutored students who'd been expelled, and taught night school English and reading.
I have poured so much more energy into becoming the person I am today than I ever did when learning to play the piano or sing. I have worked so freaking hard to be so good at what I do I am able to support myself, by myself. Not to seem unappreciative but when people ask me to play the piano my instant reaction is "No!" Because it's been 12 years. Because my hands aren't the way they used to be. Because pianos are large and heavy and it's not like I can just have one in every place I live. That's not an option.
I sure wish sometimes I'd been a guitarist or violinist or something. At least those instruments are portable. Piano? Not so much. So I'm sorry if you want me to play for you. I wish I'd known you when I was a different person and much younger. I wish you could have seen it because I put a lot of love into it and someday maybe I'll be able to again. When I'm all grown up and settled somewhere I will have a piano and I will probably take some lessons again.
You can't have everything all at once. I have to accept that some things take more time than others and some things take a lot more time. It's in my mind and in my heart, someday it will be in my home.