Written Friday, November 16…am catching up on my NaBloPoMo after my weekend away and a crazy start to the work week.
Before I was obsessed with boys, I was obsessed with music. And when I was in high school, I think grade 10 or so, I wanted to learn how to make music.
And I mean really wanted it.
The object of my affection was the guitar. I'm not sure what triggered it, if it was a classmate or crush that knew how to play it, or if it was something I'd heard at a party, but I craved it enough to ask my father for lessons.
This story is not going to make my dad look good. It paints him as stubborn, autocratic in a very man-of-the-household-what-I-say-goes way, maybe uncaring or unloving. He was none of those things. Well except stubborn. He had enough of that to pass a big chunk to me and still have plenty left over.
This story does not make me look good either. I come across as passive yet stubborn, nervous, painfully uncomfortable with confrontation, and willing to abandon a passion at the first roadblock. I was all of those things.
Not sure how I worded my request, but I do remember it was after dinner and we were in the rec room. My hand were shaking and I was scared. Not scared of my dad per se, but sometimes his reactions could be unpredictable. He worked hard at the phone companyand at home, was the only wage earner and the only driver. I knew that I was asking him to not only to find something extra in the budget but give up some of his limited free time to take me to and from lessons. I still wanted it even if it meant balogna sandwiches and inconveniencing a tired man. I screwed up my courage and asked.
And he looked at me and said that learning music was a good idea. His grandmother, his mother and sisters had all learned to play the piano and he was all for it. Oh what joy!
Until the next sentence – he'd look for piano lessons in town.
I reiterated that I wanted to play the guitar.
No, piano was good enough for his mother, it would be good enough for me.
Piano, or nothing.
We stared at each other for one of those moments that feels like an eternity but is really about 2 seconds. I saw his jaw clench and het got that look in his eye, the one I was afraid of. He did not like to be defied (well, who does, really). I broke first.
Fine, I said. Nothing.
And turned back to the tv as if I was ok with it. Conversation over.
Being a teenage girl, I blamed my dad for my anger, hurt and disappointment. But as I grew up, I knew where the fault lay. I wasn't smart or quick enough at the time to say, sure Dad, let's try it, and later manoever to the more reasonable priced, portable and lovely guitar. I was too fearful to defy my father even in something as small as this. I was too stubborn to pursue another avenue, to get a friend to teach me, to work more hours part time and save up for one of my own.
I'd said nothing, and nothing it would be. My stubbornness said a big ole fuck you, cutting of my nose to spite my face.
The guitar changed from an object of desire to a symbol of my own failings. I began to hate it, asking people not to bring it out at parties, sneering at it's kumbaya campfire reputation, deriding acoustic singer/songwriters as being insufferable shoe-gazers.
The only insufferable one was me.
An opportunity came up a few years ago to learn a string instument at school with the younger grades; I chose cello. While I liked the instrument and the sound, I was never really drawn to it. After an epiphany, I gave it back and went out and bought a guitar, a tawny Yamaha acoustic that makes me smile and think “that's MINE” with a bit of wonder everytime I see it.
I was doing well with it, learning by video and practicing every other day. But then I broke my knee and the momentum stopped. I've had Keith and Chuck both offer to help me learn, but a degree of stubborn pride wouldn't let me accept their help. And yet, I can sit in with the grade 7's, having no problem at all watching 12-year-olds quickly pass me and then watch me fumbling with slightly smug looks.
Someday I'll understand myself better. But at least I'll know how to play the guitar when I do.