I love taking my daughter to her piano lesson. Her teacher, a very nice and quirky man lives in a house that resembles a log cabin, and his small music room is like a library of memorabilia that crosses the lines of music, literature, and pop culture. It's not a small space, yet it has little choice but to seem undersized and humble because of the instrument it houses. What sucks you into this other world though, are the bookshelves.
Two of the walls are lined floor to ceiling with large pine shelves, the likes of which are crammed full of ancient LP records, books, and sheet music. It smells like reading room in the grand NYC Public Library on forty-second street, and looks like nothing has been disturbed for years. Each week, I take a seat in the glider provided in the corner of the room to listen, look, and discover.
I would guess that the man is about 10 years older than I, and obviously a tremendous fan of the Beatles. He has volumes upon volumes of books about the Beatles, compilations of complete works for the piano, and records. John, Paul, George, and Ringo are joined by many of their peers: Simon and Garfunkle, Elton John, Arlo Guthrie, and more. Much of the music is what I was exposed to through my older sister. I couldn't help but think the other night how many of these items must be out of print, and the guy could probably make a fortune on e-Bay. There are also classic works of fiction—mandatory reads like Dante's Inferno, and Shakespeare.
Dotting this landscape are miscellaneous memorabilia that rest wherever there is room. Rubber figures of Gumby and Pokey, tiny figurines, photos… souvenirs of a life. Where and when were they accumulated? I think about how I used to have things like this scattered about my dorm room in college, there to say something about me and about my personality; things that are now packed in a box or trunk somewhere, or thrown away because they somehow lost their significance. I wish I had a room like that. It's funny how when you go through this part of your life that is supposed to signify a passing into our "second-adulthood," as one of the books I read called it, we regress. That's exactly what the blog is—a big room for me to scatter all my chachka and stretch my personality.
One thing we can't toss or pack away are our memories, for which I am glad. And the little items in life that trigger them should always be part of the fabric of our lives, because every step we take forward is built on the ones we have trod before. Our lives are an orchestral score with many textures and rhythms, with a rounding chorus, of which we should always be whistling the melody.
Of course, the backdrop to all this is my daughter playing the piano. It's horribly out of tune, but it doesn't matter. She is praised up and down for her quick-study and sight reading. As I hear her master "Jingle Bells" I remember why it is I'm here, in this room, looking at her teacher's memories. I relax knowing that even if I don't have an actual room to look at mine, they are tucked in a safe place.