My new apartment is the front half of the second floor of a huge old house off East Avenue. My entrance is on the bottom floor, and I have the house’s main staircase, which has three landings and four turns and a giant stained glass window. The stairway and big landing at the top of the stairs have all this fancypants detail work on the walls and ceiling (see above). It’s all very pretty.
Obviously, I insisted on dragging my piano up all those pretty stairs.
People were all, “Maybe you could just get an electric piano.”
“I’m hiring movers.”
Still, moving the piano was the most stressful part of the move. When the guys got it up here, one of them said, “Now you’re keeping this here forever, right? Like when you move out, you’re just going to leave this thing, right?”
I just smiled in a way I hope came across as enigmatic.
The thing is that I play my piano almost entirely for me, as in, I am extremely uncomfortable playing for other people, even my teacher, Glenn, who is never anything but patient and kind about whatever I’m playing and how long it takes me to learn it. The only people I’m relaxed playing around are Maxwell and Lucas. When I try to play for anyone else, I get so nervous that my hands shake, and I totally forget what I’m doing, and I just can’t calm down.
And now I’m pretty much playing for other people, total strangers, every single time I play.
I think the people who live in the back of the house can’t hear me. The woman who lives downstairs (the owner of the house) can probably hear me, but she knew she was signing up for this, and also she’s seldom home. It’s my upstairs neighbors who can hear me. I know this because I met one of them in the driveway one day, and after we introduced ourselves I said, “I play piano. I hope it doesn’t disturb you.”
And he said, “I know! We can hear it! It’s beautiful!”
Which is such a gracious and kind thing to say, and he seemed genuine about it, but now every time I sit down and play, all I can think about is how Shahab upstairs can hear me.
This is, I believe, perhaps good for my character. The same way it is perhaps good for everyone else’s character to listen to a little Bach and Erik Satie every day.