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In lieu of a guitar

I’m having one of those days where I really wish I could play an instrument… REALLY truly play an instrument… not the 9 years of sort-of-practicing-the-piano-between-weekly-lessons that I actually did. I’m feeling, at the moment, all sorts of creative/expressive energy pent up… the sun is out, spring finally arriving to the northeast, but no real outlet on tap at the moment.

I played piano in a jazz band, during early high school, and I had SUCH a crush on the other pianist in the band. He was a complete natural… he had never taken any lessons, or maybe a mere year of lessons or something — but he could just absolutely play his heart, play his mood, on the keyboard, could feel his way naturally to the right chords, the right key during a solo improv session. Meanwhile I sat next to him plodding along, plucking away at the standard blues scale, just trying not to make our music sound actually BAD…

I definitely want to give my future kids, hoping I have some, the opportunity to give music a shot if they are interested… especially portable instruments like a guitar that they could take outside on a sunny day, and play with a couple of friends. Pianos aren’t exactly well-suited for that.

For me, dance has been my main creative/expressive outlet, I think. I did ballet for years and years as a kid, which is actually pretty rigorous and constrained, but then during college was able to let loose a bit more energy for fun in the jazz/modern dance group, all student run, student choreographed, etc. Few things are more fun and totally expressive, in my view, than moving and sweating to music. (Although have you ever thought about how amused and confused aliens would probably be to see us in a crowded dance club, bobbing away? I’d love to hear their attempted theories to explain exactly what we are doing and why, haha.)

Then, of course, there are always the private dance parties I have with myself when I am feeling stir-crazy from too much studying or work… nothing like a little getting down to old school hip-hop in your living room when no one is watching (check), or playing some air guitar to Bon Jovi with a roommate (shout out to an unnamed friend :)) when you’re really needing a silly release… :)

I think the topper though, of all of my “I think I’m alone now” dance-moments was definitely in India, two years ago… I was in this small, incredibly peaceful and laid-back town called Orchha, in northern India, wandering through a starting-to-crumble but still gorgeous, stately palace, listening to November Rain on my iPod. I stepped out of the back of the palace and came upon this big platform, overlooking a wide expanse of open dry plain. The sky was a brilliant bright blue, and the sun was literally just BAKING into my chest like a sheer liquid stream of heat (I couldn’t resist doing the whole turn up your chest, open up your arms thing). And there was not a person in sight. So… yup… I couldn’t resist, not with music playing in that kind of setting… dancing and spinning on that platform — I mean, come on, it was practically a stage!

That was one of the most amazing, memorable mornings I had that entire spring, I think. I can still remember the feeling, so vividly and viscerally — the same kind of sheer-liquid-euphoria running through your veins that comes from a long run — only way stronger than usual. A rush of endorphins, I guess. Or soul-food, depending on which vocabulary you prefer… so here’s to dancing. Or playing. Or singing (how freakin’ FUN would it be to be Bono? ), writing, painting, climbing, running, competing, laughing, shouting… Whatever your outlet is. Happy spring —

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