I have a piano taking up space in my living room— a big brown, behemoth I don’t play. It should have been the first thing I let go of as we continue to downsize before our big move. Strangely, it is the only thing I can’t seem to make a decision about. I am letting go of a house I love with an in-ground pool I dreamed of for years. I purged thousands of photographs, most of my knitting stash, my grandmother’s Victrola, my cast-iron cook stove—all gone. What is it about the piano?
Do I really think I might learn to play? No, it hurts my neck.
Do I really think my daughter, who used to play, will want it someday? No, it’s huge and frankly quite ugly. She already inherited her grandmother’s piano which she has a moved to a storage room to make space for a bigger TV.
Do I think my grandchildren will want it some day? No, not really, but I know when they visit they delight in banging on it. This move will take away a lot of what they enjoy when they visit— the pool, the big yard, the swing set, the space. Maybe I want the piano because there is one wall where it could fit in the new house and it would still be there for them.
If I don’t keep it, it will go to the landfill. I’m pretty sure of that. No one wants pianos like it anymore.
The “experts” out there say take a picture. That would only make me sadder. The “experts” say “tell the story, it’s the story that keeps us bound to our stuff.” That may be partly true with this piano: it has a story. But I don’t think that will help me. I think it’s more about growing old. My piano is just as musical as it was the day it left the factory. I know at least one owner moved it from California to a third floor walk up in Cambridge. I know I got it for free but paid Joe, the piano mover, a lot to rent a crane to swing it out of the previous owner’s front window, holding up traffic for hours. My piano has a lovely rich sound. It doesn’t deserve to end up in the dump.
My husband says, “take the piano.” He sees that it is tearing me apart to make the decision. He is willing to have one third of his new sunroom filled with an ugly brown piano. He’s willing to pay for special movers and several tunings for a piano that sits idle most of the time. It doesn’t make sense, but it is a relief to know I can bring it with me… to let him make the decision so I don’t have to. In a few years, maybe I’ll be ready to let it go. I’ll meet someone who wants a piano and will appreciate its ability to make beautiful music despite its age and unstylish appearance. Or maybe my piano and I will someday end up in a nursing home together— filled with potential—side by side until the end.