I love piano music. I always have. There is something about an instrument so melodic and thoughtful one moment and so jaunty and drunken the next. A song can always become a favorite with the simple addition of 88 keys.
Which is why it made sense to me, in college, living in a tiny dorm room that fit my bed and little else, to spend a not inconsequential amount of money on a full size keyboard. The Yamaha PSR-170 promised the sound of a baby grand, which would have been exceptional, if only I’d known how to actually play a piano.
That didn’t matter at the time. It was all very romantic. I had a boyfriend in the Navy and during his deployments he was teaching himself guitar. I would obviously be equally as talented and I’d learn the piano and we’d make music together. Except I wasn’t. And we didn’t.
The piano sat virtually unused that semester. Come the end of the school year, its giant box made the four-hour trek home in the back of my ’88 Chevy Nova, topped with all the other clutter of a semester at school. After a stint at my parents house, it moved to my first apartment, still unused. Then the movers packed it up and hauled it 900 miles away to my second apartment. I packed it up and hauled it to the third, and then again. Each time, it never came out of the box.
Francine Jay, author of The Joy of Less and the blogger behind Miss Minimalist, has a word for this: it’s called your Fantasy Self. We all have one. It’s the person we want to be, the reason we keep all of the wonderful and useful things that we’ve acquired along the way, whether it be scrapbook supplies, gourmet kitchen gear or fancy clothes we never have a chance to wear.
This is the part where I realize that it’s okay to let go of my fantasy self and get rid of the piano. Except I didn’t, at least not right away. I had every intention of selling the darn thing (well, maybe). My husband dutifully listed it on Craigslist, where it languished. (Sigh of relief.) But then, an email came, offering fifty buckaroos for the piano that I had wasted (cough choke, insert number larger than $50) on ten years earlier.
I tried to convince myself that the lovely lady named Alison at the other end of the email would love the piano more than me. Her daughter would play it, and maybe she would be a concert pianist one day. But my resolve faltered. I came up with a hundred reasons I should keep it, and renewed my intentions to actually learn to play.
I gave myself two months. Six months went by, with this thing taking up 10 precious square feet of my 600-square foot house. Then, a flood struck the town I’d grown up in. In the aftermath, I saw a Facebook post pleading for people to donate instruments so the school band could rebuild. Sometimes, that’s the key — realizing that someone needs your fantasy more than you do, someone who will actually fulfill it.
I’m happy to say I haven’t missed the piano. I know that it’s become a welcome addition to someone else’s space, and that it is finally getting the use it should. So the question is, what’s your fantasy self? Isn’t there someone out there who wants your saxophone, your cake decorating set, or those inline skates you bought years ago?