This is my piano, Anita. She is a circa early ’60s Mason & Hamlin with a remarkable Steinway-esque tone (the two brands were fashioned and manufactured in the same warehouse.)
We took her over from a writer a couple of frigid Januaries ago and I named her after a friend who left us far too soon the November prior to that. She was essential to my working through the grieving process and has become so wonderfully interwoven in my diverse day-to-day as I wear the hats of Photographer, Writer, Illustrator. She is the thread that brings together my facets, and she both gives me wings to invent and anchors me in my creativity, and being.
Her previous owner had her painted years ago and though I have considered taking her back to her original black laquer, the painting on her has become a part of her charm.
Like another special love I have that I enjoy, I have longed for her for years before she showed up in my life. And like that other special love, she offers the rare dichotomy of setting me free and giving me great gravity. Through her I have articulated musically thoughts and feelings that go far, far beyond anything words (and even brush strokes) could as adequately express. The composer’s language is a profound and soul-stirring one.
When I was very young, my grandparents kept an aunt’s light brown upright Werlitzer for her in their humble living room. I spent weekdays there for a summer both noodling on the piano and playing along with my grandpop’s AM radio. I was and still am extremely adept at picking the notes right from songs- at playing by ear.
Unfortunately, the aunt disliked the piano being kept active by my tiny fingers and she had it transferred to a storage unit (where, tragically, it rots to this day, as a matter of fact.)
We didn’t have extra money for music lessons for me and I would sit next to friends on their piano benches as their parents forced them to practice their lessons, watching eagerly and hungrily. As a teen, a gifted and busy friend of mine would teach me different things as she was able. I would skip lunch each day to sneak into my school’s auditorium and practice on the baby grand stored in a corner back stage.
I longed for a lifetime to have a piano of my very own, and that longing has finally been slaked. This is Anita! It is astounding how much warmth and soul a piano lends to its home.