We ordered this, shiny black box
Curved and square and too heavy to lift.
I would say it was the body of a whale
Or a gleaming tailfin
Were it not so still.
It arrived yesterday. First its legs and pedals were brought in, each in its own padded bag. Then the main body came down the hall, carried by two strong men. And I swear I heard it talking. Just a few notes, conversationally, as it was carried over the threshold. It then sat quietly on its side to be re-assembled, before being set to rights. Then its lid, and stand. After the men had left, I played a little (really, I can't play a single thing without lots of mistakes and hesitation), but feeling a bit overwhelmed, I closed it down. A red felt cover over the keys, and a black padded cover over the whole; and I set it to sleep till Joel came home.
As we started looking for a piano a month or two ago, I started thinking of them as big black whales, mysterious visitants to land, singing deep and curious songs beyond my ken, especially with their gleaming sailfin lids rising in rows in the bigger showrooms. The decision was difficult from beginning to end. Much harder than buying a car, or perhaps even a house.
One of the hardest things to think about was how it felt. Once you had set your budget (a traumatic enough experience), there was a lot of salespersonship going on, on the virtues of new or second-hand, and about finding the piano that's right for you personally, and so forth; and a great deal of flattery towards the teenage boy who valiantly played his way up and down the price range in front of scores of other shoppers and sales assistants. But in the end, as a friend said to us, how can you have a relationship on first meeting? It takes time to develop.
And I think that is right. We are all feeling a bit overwhelmed by what we have done. We spent the entire weekend moving furniture and fifteen years of accumulated bookshelf chaos to make room for it (and we have made some major financial adjustments and sorting of priorities: essentially, music comes first!). But it feels like the beginning, rather than the glorious culmination of a difficult decision. Like a traditional arranged marriage between children, perhaps, which has every prospect of working well as we all grow into each other.
When Joel was born, he began as he went on, conversationally. He started by talking to us. "Ah, ah, ah", he said, as they lifted him out of my womb and placed him on the pillow next to me. As the piano came down the corridor, I felt as if I was being spoken to, in a very similar way. We all have a long way to go, together.
The box is only beginning.