P is for Piano

When I was very, very pregnant with Aviva – September 2002 – Greg and I went piano shopping. It had become a tradition of sorts to tease ourselves at the local piano store’s annual sale of new and refurbished pianos. Uprights, baby grands, keyboards you could sit and spend hours playing on and dreaming about bringing home. I grew up with a baby grand that I started learning on when I was about Aviva’s age, five or so. But after I moved out, my parents eventually donated it to the assisted living facility where two of my grandparents spent their final years.

Living without a piano for many years left me missing that outlet; even though I had stopped practicing and taking lessons sometime around junior high, I would take any opportunity to play and improvise. In college, I occasionally sought out practice rooms, but mostly I just went without piano. I didn’t really know how much I missed it until I had a chance to play one; then some whole other way of feeling things would take over and remind me. To this day, my music repertoire is pretty much limited to George Winston’s Thanksgiving, which I spent hours and hours playing as a teenager, a couple of songs I wrote around that same time, and rusty sight-reading. But every now and then I attempt to sound something out by ear. “Falling Slowly” made me want to do that.

Anyway, we talked it over in the parking lot of the piano store that day – and decided against buying the piano. It just didn’t seem prudent (what a lousy word!). Here we were, expecting our first child. Greg had recently quit his job and was struggling to find a sense of direction. I was looking forward to maternity leave and had visions of not returning to work full-time. It was exciting to think of having a piano – and a bummer to imagine raising a kid without one. But we decided it wasn’t time.

A couple of weeks later, early October now, I got home from work and dumped my stuff by the kitchen door as usual. I headed towards the rest of the house, looking for Greg. And that’s when something shiny and black caught my eye. I leapt back. I think I might have screamed. It was totally shocking but unmistakable – there in my dining room was a piano! A gorgeous, shiny, black, upright Yamaha, bright flowers bursting from a vase right on top of it. And there was Greg, sitting at the table, waiting for me to get home. “Happy anniversary, baby,” he grinned.

Prudent or not, Aviva was born into a home with a piano. She arrived on October 10, 2002 – our third wedding anniversary. A home with children without music was unimaginable to us. And here we are, five years and another daughter later, living that dream.

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