Life changes come. Inexorable. Easy. Hard. Desired. Resisted. Accepted. Overwhelming. Natural. Unbearable. Every feeling at once, and more. Or, none.
Since the day I dropped Emily for her first band camp and watched the stocky little body disappear into the crowd, I had little fear. There have been battles, some epic, but she has built a good persona to test the world.
The last sister will leave for band camp in six short weeks. The enormity of her future only came to Laura this past school year. A lot of change to absorb. Her constant about to be absorbed into a different orbit.
One constant in these two girls’ lives is a blue guitar. It was a gift to their oldest sister, from an enthusiastic boyfriend. Neither interested Becca; the boyfriend left, the guitar stayed. Becca played baritone in her marching band, but developed no interest in the guitar.
It passed on to Emily, the flute player, whose interest level was no higher. For four years, with an intermission of two lessons, it collected dust in Emily’s room. The little trumpet player, the youngest ever admitted to the jazz band, coveted the blue guitar, but was rebuffed by that sisterly admonition, “Don’t touch my guitar!”
Three weeks ago, such squealing and jumping in the little bedroom hallway. The guitar was gifted! “I think it’s an apology,” Laura confided to Grandma, who smiled, and said nothing. Laura sat cross legged on her bed, strumming noises coming from her room. I looked in from time to time and commented the sound was pleasant. “I’ve figured out three chords,” Laura said. “But, I don’t know their names.”
I realized the guitar had no strap. “That’s because it only has one button,” the little strummer explained. We went to get a button and a strap. We tried the music store in Hudson, and it was not open, on a beautiful spring afternoon. We discussed the foolishness of stores that did not bother with customers as we headed off to the other music store we knew of.
That store is just a hole in the wall, which definition I had to explain to Laura, and she agreed at once. There is one narrow aisle left down its middle, the walls and floor space on either side packed with stuff, and guitars. We had been there before; the owner sent us away knowing a red rubber toilet plunger was the mute Hamilton needed for his trombone, and far less expensive than anything he had to offer.
We stepped into a store empty except for the proprietor, who asked Laura how he could help her. I was not needed and retreated to a stool between two packing boxes. For more than an hour I watched an irrepressible man acknowledge the ability and progress of a little girl, who was both confident in what she had figured out and insatiable to find what she didn’t know.
When two customers appeared, much, much later, Laura had two lessons under her belt, a book with marked up chords, a tuner, guitar picks that were not old CD’s, and a strap. “You don’t need a strap button,” he explained. “Use a shoe string.”