Thursday, August 11, 2011

Mood Music.

People often ask me why we have an upright piano in our dining room. It's usually one of the first things they see when they walk into our house, and I can understand the curiosity. Why would anyone have a piano in their dining room?

One of our very dear friends hooked us up with this lovely lady (yes, I just gave my piano a gender) back in January. She (my friend) told us about someone she knew who was looking to give away an old piano. My jaw nearly dropped to the floor when I heard that, because who would ever simply give away a piano? Well, the story was that the friend of my friend was getting a new piano and needed to make room for it by giving away her old one. I told my friend that she simply HAD to take the piano, and that afterward she needed to invite us over for playdates every day so that we could have some jam sessions.

(Note: I can read music but only passably, and I have never had a jam session on a piano. But that was besides the point. Hello! FREE PIANO!)

Having agreed to this (slightly unfair for my friend) arrangement, we went on our merry way, friend called me later that evening, distraught. She had tried every possible rearrangement of all the furniture in her house, and there was absolutely no way that she could fit an upright piano anywhere. I was so sad for her, knowing that her mother is a piano teacher and how much it would have meant to share their love of music with my friend's young son.

But then my friend asked me if there was any place in MY house for a piano. Without thinking for even half a second I said YES ABSOLUTELY UNEQUIVOCALLY YES. She graciously gave me the phone number of her friend and said that I should have the piano. And then she asked if she and her son could come over to my house every day for a jam session. Hah!

I contacted the friend of my friend, who was expecting my call. She told me that her three children had learned to play on this old piano, and that she wanted to warn me that it was really, really well-loved. It was old (she guessed that it was made in the early 1900's), a bit beaten up, but none the worse for wear in terms of sound quality. I asked her if I could pay her something for it and she refused, saying that she was just happy that it was going to a house with children, instead of to the dump (which is where it was headed...she had tried to donate it but nobody could take it, even when she offered to pay to have it moved).

I was so moved by the sound of the emotion in her voice. This piano was more than just an instrument for her family. It was coming to us as a gift wrapped in years of happy memories. I told her that we would treat it well - to which she said NO. She said that was the opposite of what she wanted, that her hope was that it would continue to be used, abused, clambered on, and loved. Now that was something I could absolutely promise her in return.

We arranged to have the piano delivered to our house a few days later, but there were two teeny tiny problems:

1 - We were going to be out of town on the day of the delivery, and it was the only day that the delivery could take place (the original family was getting their new piano and couldn't keep both).
2 - I hadn't actually mentioned any of this to Yousuf. Nor was I even sure that we had room for the piano.

I broke it to Yousuf gently, but really all it took was the magic words, "free including delivery". El Cheapitan immediately started moving furniture and measuring spaces all around the house while he worked out how to make room for this really fantastic, really full-sized, really FREE piano.

We ended up with two potential options, and I called my friend to ask if she would supervise the movers on D-Day (D for delivery)  Both she and her friend (the original owner of the piano) agreed to watch over the transfer, and I arranged to drop off extra keys to the house on our way out of town.  Yousuf and I had done our best to clear a couple of piano-sized places on our main floor, but we knew that it was going to be cramped. We decided to leave the final decision to my friend, knowing that wherever the piano ended up, that was probably where it was going to stay. Exciting (and kind of scary)!

I had to pinch myself in Toronto a few days later, knowing that when we returned home, we'd have a piano...somewhere in our house. I remember calling my friend about three hundred times that day, asking her if it was there yet (it wasn't), and wondering about where the piano would fit. I trusted my friend completely when it came to piano-placement; I knew that she would do her best to make it work. And hey - we were getting a free piano!!! Really, it didn't matter where it ended up as long as it was ours.

My friend sent me a video late that evening, showing me where she decided to place the piano. I called her once more afterward and she said, "Fair warning, okay? It's HUGE. That was the only place it would work...and I think you should totally use it as a sideboard."

We hadn't told the girls about any of this piano business, and it was so gratifying to see there little faces light up when they discovered the piano in our dining room. We had just gotten home after a very long drive and well, you can tell that this was the perfect way to end our trip...

...and that was just the beginning. Having our very own piano is a dream come true. I was never able to complete my piano lessons because my parents didn't have the expendable income. I always wanted to keep learning, though. And now I can - with my girls. We eat, we play, we eat some more and keep on playing as the sunlight fades outside. Yousuf does too, and between the two of us we can hammer out a fairly even Heart and Soul, while the girls twirl around beside us and beg us for more of the same song over and over and over again.  I forgot how freeing it felt to play...just because you can.

It's a wonderful gift, this piano in our dining room, and such a great story behind it's arrival.  The girls absolutely adore it, and even though it's smack in the middle of our eating space - it's the perfect fit.

(Oh, and we haven't used it as a sideboard - yet. We've been too busy having jam sessions!)
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