I think I'll always remember walking down that dirty lane, on the Wednesday afternoon appointments turned to 6:00 evenings. Oil spots & dog poo & Mexican truckers, but it was an award-winning apartment he rented, you see (but I didn't see). Always where the jazz blew in room 7 with the brass knocker and the welcome mat at our feet.

My piano teacher lived there. Clutter, glorious, in that small room, with that I-don't-know-how-many-months old Jack-o-Lantern carved by his son (but he's divorced now; marriage expired like his pumpkin), standing on the kitchen counter (which was as small as a matchbox, if exaggeration weren't a lie). The dusty keyboard near the dusty window-shades that I could never seem to play on (maybe it was because I didn't practice?). But it was magical for him, I don't know how.

Small, short, and maybe unglamorous if you'd never seen him play, but he was alive, in his shiny dress shoes and somehow dusty dress shirt before a gig. And so alive in his music.

Those lessons were a shame for me, and I know it was my fault. But even amidst my stuttering chords and lukewarm melodies, I found the nerve to yearn for more. I didn't want his kind smile or his praise (which I knew deep down was probably pity). I didn't.

He played like it was his life—it was—and I played like it was the death of me (I couldn't break through), but somehow between all the jumping music and dog poo and dusty, window-eyed Jack-o-lanterns, I knew so strongly what I wanted.

I wanted his respect.


it's funny taking something so concrete on your life and writing it out...new for me.