Saturday, April 25, 2015

Why I'm not a musician

I've been taking a writing class at Story Studio. It's called Memoir(ish). It's about writing memoirs, personal essays, true stuff. This is my latest assignment: write the smallest, most specific scene possible. Focus on the details and let us see the scene.

I am suddenly nervous. All day I had been excited, bragging about how cool this was. Talking about how much fun it was going to be and how good I was going to be. I put on a dress and probably knee socks and most likely my mom put my long blond hair into some sort of do. Something with curls and barretts. But now, walking into the auditorium - not even the auditorium, the corridor that leads to the auditorium, I am nervous.

I feel my heart start to race. Typical nervous stuff. But this time it's different. I can't breath. Or it feels like I can't breath. I stop. I don't walk forward anymore. My mom and my sister, not realizing I'm not there anymore keep going a few steps. Then they turn around and see me just standing there. What's wrong they ask. I can't move anymore. I can't go. I'm pretty sure my palms have begun to sweat. I set the violin case down.

I can hear all the instruments - kids taking their instruments out of their cases and tuning them. I can hear the excited voices of parents saying good luck to their kids, or people asking directions to their seats. I look around at all the people. There are so many people here. So many more than I thought there would be. Why didn't I realize there would be this many people?

I knew that it was going to be several elementary and high schools coming together for a recital. I knew that my elementary school string students, about 20 of us, were joining at least a dozen other elementary school students. We had all been practicing the same songs for these many weeks. We had all been doing the same drills and learning the same fingering. We were going to be playing the theme to Dallas - no that's not right. But something, something famous. I want to say the theme to Star Wars, but I know that's not right. I know that the high school students learned that and I was so jealous of them. I'm sure we didn't play anything that complicated.

We could have been playing mary had a little lamb for all I cared, it didn't matter, because I wasn't going in. I was going to turn around and walk out and leave and go home.

My mother walks over to me and asks what's wrong. I don't remember what I said but i'm sure it was something along the lines of - yeah, this isn't going to happen - except how a 10 year old says that. Maybe "I don't want to."  Now she's mad. I'm sure she tried to coax me for several seconds. But now she's mad, and yelling. Well, doing that quite intense and serious voice parents do when they're trying not to make a scene. I don't want to make a scene, that is the last thing I want. I don't want anyone looking at me, I just want to leave.

I figure no one will miss me. There are at least six girls at my school alone who play the violin. Multiple that by 12 and there are a lot of violins in the middle school orchestra. It will be one less little girl screeching her way through a song. But she won't let me back out. She keeps telling me I have to go. She keeps telling me that this is something I want to do and she says I have to do it. I don't know why. It's just a stupid recital. We have had other recitals at school. I don't know why this one is so important to her. She says she doesn't understand how I could be so excited during the day and now not want to do it.

I'm on the floor crying. Not like a little kid having a temper tantrum. But slunk down, refusing to move, crying, pleading, to leave. I think she tries pulling me to get me to stand up. But maybe that's just my faulty memory projecting how terrified I feel and how much I don't want to go and that it should take her dragging me to my seat to get me to go. She doesn't. She doesn't have to drag me to my seat. I don't know how, but somehow I get up the nerve, or she says the right thing or I realize there is no way out and I might as well go and join the rest of my classmates and get it over with. I can sit in my chair and pretend to play if I want. No one will ever know.

Finally, after what seems like an eternity, but is probably all of five minutes, I get up. I wipe off the tears and my mom gives me a hug and says it's going to be OK, that I'm going to be good. I don't believe her, but I walk through the big auditorium doors and find my seat among the hundreds of other kids and wait for the recital to start.

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