The blue pin-striped dress I was wearing had a ruffled collar that I thought looked old-fashioned. Against my will, I had worn it to second grade picture day with my stringy hair and toothy grin as accessories.
Now I was in the old-fashioned dress again, this time in a piano recital at the Methodist Church. I didn’t much like piano lessons. I didn’t understand music in the way I knew the other kids grasped it. I could play the correct notes from the page, but that is where the translation would end. There was no passion or beauty in my clanging.
I had practiced the recital piece for weeks and could play it backwards and in my sleep. For this reason, Mom didn’t want me to use the sheet music in the recital. Performing from memory would make the simple rhythm more impressive.
I ascended the plush red church stairs empty handed. I played the first few notes and then every thought I had ever known – piano or otherwise – fell out of my head.
The pause was deafening. Frozen, I did not look out into the pews filled with supportive parents and music students waiting their turn. I just sat, shaking, staring at the bare wooden upright instrument. I might have sat there the rest of my life.
I sat still and silent on the piano bench for a minute at least. Sixty seconds in such a situation is long enough for the entire room to become damp with the discomfort of it. What I remember most is the whiteness in my head. My mind has never been so blank.
Eventually, my fingers picked up some measure in the middle and I managed to play a few combinations of notes to bring the ordeal to a close.
I walked off the stage feeling ugly in my dress and with my face stained pink.
photo by eflon