Wednesday, January 13, 2010


Tonight Bob and I got out our guitars to play with the three grandsons (Danny immediately requested "Puff the Magic Dragon" a song I, too, associate with Bob and his guitar with much sweetness). Bob has had trouble with his hand for some time now and hasn't been able to play but decided tonight that he was up to it (yay for spontaneous recovery in the last few weeks!). I was delighted to hear and get to sing with Bob again. And it made me think.

I want Liam to grow up with singing in the house the way I did. I still remember the absolute tenderness of Bob camped out singing me lullabies on his guitar. And I attribute my love of Folk music to his Peter Paul and Mary repertoire--those songs have always felt like family and love. Like a Dad is supposed to.

There have been a couple of times, over the years, that I've gotten to sing with Bob while he played and I've caught myself thinking "here it is--look at us--we are being a family!" and I've always dreamed of being able to do that for my kids.

So, when I was young, I requested and received a guitar for my (13th?) birthday. And I LOVE my guitar. It still makes me ridiculously happy just to get it out and drag the pick over the steel strings and listen to the resonance. It's a nice guitar and it was a very generous gift at a time that I'm not sure my parents had a ton of money to spare.

Playing the guitar has always fit with my self image and I think my mom and Bob got that. And so they didn't bat an eyelash. Didn't hesitate--they just got me the guitar and the lessons to go with it. And I was THRILLED. I still remember buying the grape seed oil and learning all about how to take care of my fingernails. I remember learning the opening fingerwork for Norwegian Wood and Brown Eyed Girl and feeling like I was finding myself.

I LOVED learning to play.

And then my teacher told me I would never get anywhere unless I learned my bar chords. And I couldn't get them. I tried and I cried and I wished. But I just couldn't do it. And I decided that if I wasn't going to get any better unless I learned something I couldn't learn then I should stop wasting my parents money and I asked to quit my classes. And so I quit--and I still played on occasion but I hadn't really learned much and I certainly hadn't gotten to the kind of social playing I wanted. And so I played less and less over the years. I lost my callouses and I forgot most of the chord progressions I'd learned.

I don't like that. I want to be able to pick my guitar up and sing when the boys request a song

So sitting there with Bob and the guitar he so sweetly got me and that I never really learned to play. I felt sad and guilty and loved and a whole host of mixed emotions. And I realized that I have that sort of experience far too often in my real life: I feel tenderness and regret and complicated emotions--and I want to say something: reach out in some what. But I stop short of saying anything about them.

Too often I tuck away my worry or remorse or concern or embarrassment or even love. And I act as if there is no deeper level to whatever mundane interaction is taking place.

I don't want to do that anymore.

So I'm not sure if I want to work on building up the callouses on my fingers or tearing down the ones on my interactions... maybe both?

1 comment:

  1. Both love. And I wish I had understood what happened about the bar cords. I don't know if I could have made anything different, just wish I could have. i want music in the house too. It feels so good. I love it when you and Bob sing and play.