My name is Miranda. My mom is a pianist for the local classical band: Strings and Keys. My dad is a singer for the rock band Leather and Roses. He shouts about angst, murder, stealing, and all kinds of other things. The two of them could not be more upset. I’m honestly 100% sure I am tone-deaf. Yes, it sucks.
If I had to play an instrument, it would be electric guitar. It’s a beautiful instrument. My dad’s less of a perfectionist when it comes to technicalities. He tells me passion’s more important. He’s even said there have been several songwriters and singers who have not been great at singing. I mean, he’s right. I won’t name any names, but he’s right. They’re usually country or folk singers and they are usually white men because white men can get away with a Hell of a lot more than anybody else. I want to be a biologist, honestly. My dream is to study frogs, birds, and bugs, but my parents won’t have that.
Anyway, I’ve been taking piano lessons since I was three. That’s right. It was my mother’s decision. Frankly, I think it’s an incredibly versatile, classic, and boring instrument. I’d rather play electric guitar in a punk rock band, but my mother always says that’s not what ladies do. I’m rolling my eyes just thinking about it.
Last night was my mom’s concert with her band. She played Beethoven’s songs flawlessly, but everyone knew they weren’t her own. I always felt like she was trying so hard to get the technicalities of her performances correct that she lacked passion. My dad was not the most technical vocalist in the world obviously, but he always had passion when he sang, or, technically, shouted.
It was a Tuesday night. The moon shown over the lake like a spotlight on a stage. I could see it in my mind. I was in a small room with a man telling me about Mozart’s life and I wished I could go canoeing. There’s nothing I wanted more in the world than to go canoeing. His voice became a dull hum in my mind as I nodded, trying to appear interested, lost in what types of birds might be inhabiting the lake at this very moment. I sighed and the teacher heard me.
“Are you listening to anything I’ve been saying?” He asked, staring me down. Professor Nick Bustermister was his name.
I nodded, praying silently that he wouldn’t ask me any questions about it.
“When was Johann Sebastian Bach born?” “I…er…I missed that part,” I stammered, thinking I might soon lose faith if The Man Upstairs kept leaving my prayers unanswered.
“He was born on March 31, 1685. You’d know that if you’d been listening.”
I wanted to moan but refrained from doing so.
“I’m…sorry,” I mumbled, not meaning it, “Can I go to the restroom?”
The man laughed, “Of course you can go to the restroom. Everyone can go to the restroom.
The technically correct way to ask me that question is, “May I go to the restroom?”
I rolled my eyes, “May I go to the restroom? It’s a bit of an emergency.”
He chuckled at his own attempt at humor that had fallen very flat.
“You may,” He responded.
I sighed, rolled my eyes again, then walked out of the door. I spent the remainder of my lesson in the restroom, looking the different species of water fowl that might inhabit the lake on my iPhone, and then, when my mother finally arrived, twenty minutes late I might add, I told them both that I was having a constipation issue. The embarrassment was more bearable than the piano lesson.
“Are you making any progress during your lessons?” My mom asked, her hands around the steering wheel as she avoided my gaze.
“Not really. I don’t think it’s a gift of mine.”
“Are you practicing for thirty minutes each day?”
I nodded, “Of course, mom. Most of the time.”
“You need to practice all of the time if you’re going to get good. Your father and I want you to be able to play in Strings and Keys with me when you’re old enough, but that’s going to take a lot of work, my dear.”
I nodded and mumbled a semblance of an agreement.
“Can I go bicycling tomorrow?”
My mom stared at the highway for a long time, silent.
“What would you want to do that for? I never liked bicycling, getting all of that dirt spewing up around me. They were always too fast for me.”
“Yeah, but I’m not you, mom,” I snapped.
She sighed, “Well, if you must, but wear a helmet, and wear gloves. We don’t want your piano-playing fingers getting damaged if you fall. I always fall on bicycles.”
I sighed, “Yes, mother.”
When we arrived home, I went upstairs to my room and I cried, wishing my parents would understand that music was neither my passion nor my forte, but they never would. They were too worried about what they wanted me to be and what they wanted me to do that they never thought about what I wanted to be and what I wanted to do with my life. The tears ran down my cheeks like bits of dew on the grass. I wished I could go outside and study the different species of grass in our tiny yard.
I wished I could go kayaking, see the geese, breathe in the fresh air of Mother Earth, but my parents were worried that I might fall into the lake and get hypothermia. Yes, I repeat, it was the middle of summer, everyone swam in the lake, and my parents were worried that, if I went kayaking, I would fall into the lake and get hypothermia. For this reason, they had not allowed me to drive the vehicle and had made sure I didn’t know where the keys were. I felt like a bird in a golden cage.