Music and Memory

I have a number of summer resolutions. For one, I’d like to learn to play the piano. Again.

It’s not that I could ever really play in the first place. After a few years of self-imposed lessons, I could proudly state that I knew the first twenty bars to about a dozen songs. Whether I could actually play them was another story. Some of these selections were almost impressive, however. My teacher and I liked to hack away at four handed arrangements of things from time to time. He was a little better than me. But at least it explains why a copy of Beethoven’s symphonies (numbers one through five) and another of the Nutcracker Suite piano reduction loom behind me on the bookshelf. I figure if I live with them long enough eventually I’ll learn them.

Tonight after work, I settled down in front of a piano downstairs to practice for half-an-hour. I had made arrangements to set off several hundreds of dollars worth of fireworks with DJ and Bob from across the street, but the recent rains have left our sand flats a bit too muddy for Bob’s taste. This is probably all for the best, anyway.

Tonight DJ, Bob, and I realized that we have each, at some point, lived next to the other. When DJ moved from Brockton, his family took a house neighboring Bob’s. Then Bob moved and DJ moved again, this time down the street from me. That’s essentially how we met. Bob and I had met through soccer but were reacquainted through varisty cross country in high school. DJ also ran. Because he walked the same way home, we walked together. When polled, people will say that they are friends with their friends because they think similarly or share compatible beliefs; when friends are asked to take surveys independently of each, though, that is seldom the case. Instead it appears that friends usually share common interests or activities and not beliefs. Now that we don’t run anymore, it’s surprising that we’re still friends nearly eight years later. But of course, I haven’t completed the triangle.

While I was away at college, my dad and sister moved to the next town. And wouldn’t you know it, they found a place three houses down the street from Bob, his wife Trisha, and then only child Kyle. Luke, their second kid, is almost eighteen months old. We have each neighbored the other in pairs. The three of us and Kyle (and a few others) are going to see Superman at the Natick IMAX next Friday. But none of bears any consequence on my playing the piano.

Somehow sight reading seemed easier tonight than it did five or six years ago, whenever it was that I last tried to tame that beast with its eighty-eight keys. According to my piano teacher, there’s a direct line of tutelage between me and Chopin. Perhaps there’s something to that. I’ll let you know when my end-of-the-summer concert is.

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