This is dedicated to a poster here, to Exodus.
She wrote, “I have let one weak, small minded, evil man destroy my quality of life and rob me…”
In her post, she talked about personal loss, one of which was giving up playing the violin.
That was a gut shot. In my case, it was a man of petty resentments and jealousies that I blindly succumbed to. A man weak enough to resent my strengths, abilities, and opportunities. (Today, he says he’s sorry for all that.)
When I was a kid, I loved the saxophone, but my best friend wanted to play the violin, so naturally I did too. I say naturally because I was probably codependent from birth. Funny thing though, I began to love playing my violin in the orchestra. I was never first chair or even second chair, but I was good enough to be chosen by my teacher to play a duet with the first chair at a school competition. I was good enough to be chosen for an elite ensemble that played for fund raising. A partial handicap was a not very good violin that my teacher tried to work on to improve the sound.
Now enters the part of my story that I don’t have time to tell here, but in my junior year of high school, which turned out to be my last year, I dropped out of orchestra to make room for another credit. Foolish young thing that I was, I was cramming in credits to graduate early so I could start a vocational school early, so I could get married one year earlier.
Married? I was in love, but not even engaged. As a teenage student, I tested in the 99th percentile, and all I could think of was getting out of high school to get training – so my boyfriend (at the time) and I could get married – and I could work to put him through school. ugh ugh ugh
A question I was never asked at home… What do you want to be when you grow up?
Or… What do you want to do after high school?
Okay, so I was messed up. I really don’t want to go back and slap myself anymore, but I do wish I could go back in a time machine, hug myself, validate and encourage myself, talk straight talk sense into my young self, and cheer that insecure but promising young woman on.
But I met my husband and got married. And as the first years of marriage went by, I continued to miss playing my violin in the orchestra. I was only a handful of years out of playing, and while rusty, could easily have come back to fit playing form. One day I asked my husband if he would mind if I found another orchestra to play in. There was a community college near us that had an orchestra, and I wanted to try to get in. I told him the catch was that I’d need a new violin, and it would cost approximately $1,000. – $1500., and yes, I knew we’d have to make payments… but could I please? He was very enthusiastic and supportive. He said it was a great idea, that he’d love to see me do that for myself, and I should get going on it.
I was so excited. Beyond excited. I felt elated. I went to the school and talked to the teacher conducting the orchestra. I told him that I needed to find someone to give me a few lessons to brush up and catch up, then I’d like to join. It turned out that the orchestra was mainly adults like me that just wanted to keep playing. He gave me the name and number of a teacher who actually played in the orchestra. I contacted her, and told her I needed a new violin. She told me that she worked with a man that sold violins, and kept an assortment at her home for students to try out. I was welcome to borrow them one at a time until I found one I wanted.
Oh. Oh, oh. I found a violin for $1,000. that I fell in love with. Yes, you can fall in love with an instrument. My feeling of elation was now at the burst with happy float on a cloud level. Everything felt so right and good and hopeful.
My husband and I had to drive together to sign the loan to be able to get the violin on payments for one year. About a block away from our destination, he abruptly and somewhat casually said, “We can’t afford to get the violin. I need the money from this loan to pay bills. Maybe later.”
And that was it. Crushed. Stunned. Flat. Young and trapped and saw no way out. Saw no way through or past the pain. Saw no hope. Saw no choices.
Exit violin from my life.
I didn’t entirely give up. We had a piano that I didn’t know how to play. We’d bought it (payments) when I was working nights in a restaurant when we only had one child (just a toddler at the time) with the intention that she and any future kids would have lessons. (yeah… that didn’t exactly work out either)
I found a beginner’s group piano class at the same community college. This would only cost $50. total, and I scraped that out of the grocery budget. It wasn’t my violin, it wasn’t the orchestra, but it was hope. It was music and hope.
The teacher was so encouraging. He kept asking me how many years I’d taken piano lessons growing up. Zero. Nada. But his assumption made me more hopeful. He said I was a natural. I kept happily practicing at home.
Well, not entirely happily.
My husband worked from home. He kept finding reasons – almost every time I practiced – to interrupt me. I’d either feel him staring behind me, see him standing there waiting (feeling his resentment and irritation), or he’d just start talking as though I wasn’t doing anything.
Would I run an errand for him? Had I planned or started dinner? Did the mail come? Did I launder his socks or shirts yet? What were the kids doing? Did I want to go for a walk later? He was tired. He wasn’t feeling well. He was hungry. Could I do some typing for him? He wished he had spare time to play his trombone.
He played the trombone when he was in school. He was pretty darn good at it too. I would have loved to hear him picking it up. (In fact, I still occasionally encourage him to pick it up after all these years.) I guess if he wasn’t playing, I shouldn’t be playing? I shouldn’t get anything unless he does too? That sounds ludicrous and childish, but objectively analyzing events over the years, it pretty much has played out like that.
It was relentless. The interruptions and unspoken resentment ground me down. I finished the class. I tried to keep practicing, but one day, it just felt like too much. I stopped, intending to start later…
One day never came.
Not many years later when I was pregnant and experienced a serious trauma, I got a sudden onset of arthritis. My hands have been stiff and clumsy ever since.
I still miss it, but I can’t imagine quite how to get it back in my life.