Looks like I’m posting two, today… gotta stay up on this.
Day 07 – A picture of your most treasured item
This one took even me by surprise, which is why it took me all day to figure out what item it would be. I knew it would be an instrument, but I didn’t expect this.
My initial thought was it would be my sax, hands down; it’s been with me the longest, it’s been banged up and repaired, smelled like cigarette smoke and beer spills, was rescued from a pawn shop for a measly $400 and was promptly stolen from me by the music shop I brought it to to be checked out and finally brought back into my possession through a private investigator and threats of never shopping there again. But, no, it wasn’t my sax.
Next up I thought it would be my Fender Strat. This guitar was originally my friends’ dad’s, which he sold to me for $125 that I paid in $25 increments — to this day, it’s still the most expensive guitar I’ve bought myself. It was originally a stock 1996 Mexican Stat, complete with 60hz-hum plagued single coils and all the tuning issues you’d expect from a Strat. But I learned a lot of stuff with this guitar, and not just how to play better guitar… It was the first guitar I rewired, it was the first guitar I changed out hardware on, and it’s still my go-to-axe when I’m required to make a choice. Hell, I even named it… my sax didn’t get that luxury.
But, no… it was my piano.
Three, maybe four, years ago, Utah Pianos posted an add on Craigslist that they were emptying out two of their storage units of pianos that were in too poor condition to be sold in their store and pianos were going for as cheap as free, and my wife knew I wanted a piano, so we went. We also brought my dad along, ’cause it’s always nice to have him around and, if we were going to get a piano, we’d need his help.
When we got there to the storage units, the pianos available ranged from the free-$400 range, and ran the gamut of qualities, shapes, and sizes; Player pianos, console pianos, full-sized uprights, and even a legless baby grand. I played many of them, my hands getting dusty in the process. All the pianos were out of tune, some with many broken hammers and strings, missing keys or simply keytops, and none that most people would fine desireable.
We were there for a free piano. I didn’t care if it was in tune — I knew a tuner — and I didn’t care if the keys on the ends even had hammers; I just wanted a piano.
I had picked out a free piano at the back of the storage unit that needed some love, but it was playable. It had two octaves that were relatively in tune, and that was good enough for me, and just before I asked the guy to pull it out, my wife pulled me aside. She had recently done some work for my parents, and they owed her $125; if it was alright with her if they paid her in buying me a piano, instead.
Instantly, I knew which piano I wanted — looking back, I think this was not only her plan, but she also knew which piano I wanted and knew she could get it for me. It was an old beat up thing in the back corner where someone had modified the top to have an additional shelf — we were told that was in style in the 50s — that sounded good throughout it’s range and only had two broken hammers and a broken damper pedal. It felt good, it felt like it was once loved by a lot of people, and it was a full-sized upright.
So Kris talked to my dad, and he agreed. We wheeled the piano out into the parking lot where a piano tech — who also saw the add and thought it was a perfect opportunity to get some business — repaired the hammers for free, all while talking about how he grew up in the same small Colorado town that my mom did and how he knew my mom’s dad’s brother. We called Kris’ folks to come help us with a truck, and we brought the piano home.
It’s moved with us twice: once to an apartment where we used it as the excuse to have a ground-level apartment, when in reality we knew Kris’ knees and hips simply couldn’t handle stairs every day but there was no medical backing for it; and then to our house we live now. It’s become the source of jokes about my dad’s strength from both moves, and then moving it around the house and through our back door into my office, because in all three cases he alone lifted one end clean off the ground and basically shoved the two of us in the front to where we were going. It’s the nicest and most thoughtful gift my wife’s ever purchased for me. It’s where I go to write music. It’s my desert-island instrument.
So, yeah… it’s my most treasured item.