My piano has arrived. I skim the surface with my fingertips, feeling the cold keys. I sit down and the bench cushion sags a little as if to welcome me. A long forgotten song struggles to the surface of my memory. It doesn't matter that my fingers play haltingly, this is where I belong.
The literature says that a mobile family should have a routine. Routines help ease the transitions. Our routine was breakfast. I'm not sure my parents set it up to be that way, but that's the way it worked out. I generally knew what day it was based on what we were having for breakfast.
But more than just food, it was our hobbies that became a kind of routine. When I was a kid, I took all kinds of classes. You name it, I've done it. Sports, art, and dance were picked up and dropped as we jumped from city to city. After six countries on four continents, only music has sustained.
There is something about music that's transcendent. Maybe it's when you get so deep into a song that you stop thinking about the notes and start paying attention to the music. It's the release of stress, of emotion, of the world around you.
In college I used music as an escape from my school life. Every week I would disappear for an hour and a half to my voice teacher's house off campus. She would play and I would sing: arias, cabaret songs, musical theater. In those classes I found a part of my voice I didn't know I had. I learned to release my upper registers and sing through runs. She was triumphant the first time I hit C6 (that's two C's above middle C for you non-musicians). She smiled proudly and balled her hand into a fist: Yes!
Back in Jewett I would warm up and sing through my vocal pieces. Then I would sit down at the piano with a single song to relieve all of the tension of the day. It was only two pages and full of runs. It starts out slowly: a beautiful legato that pulls you in. Slowly you speed up and crescendo, until you're pounding out chords in quick succession. The final chord is like a release: everything has built that those notes. I would play it over and over, until all the pressure of Wellesley melted away.
It still works actually. I can still sit in front of the piano with that song. A few times through and my shoulders will relax, my mind will forget my broken heart and my anxiety over my career path, and the ills of the world and I will be entirely open and free.