Hands poised, I felt brave and silly. How could I have not played before? All those moments I’d spent walking by, watching my kids and husband, I had not even once considered that I needed to play, too. She stands proud in my living room, daily offering her love to me, and I hadn’t realized my hesitation until this moment. The back of my hands had been slapped metaphorically too many times to give myself permission. I danced around the idea of playing, dishes in the sink, laundry to the right, until I finally sat with watery eyes to plunk notes I had been forbidden to play.
As a child, strangers would comment on how my hands were built for it, and I would half smile in return knowing I wasn’t allowed. A piano had been stored in my small basement bedroom along with two high-end tchotchke hutches. One rule: Do not touch anything. And no you can’t have lessons. My favorite hutch was filled with tiny porcelain shoes that BEGGED to be held. The microscopic rosebuds atop elf slippers invited hours of wonderment as I sat staring. I never once touched anything. I swore she knew where every item was placed at the exact degree it had been arranged. I was certain I would be caught or that she would see a hint of delight hidden in the corner of my mouth or that she would read my mind. Once I foolishly dusted the piano with Windex (I didn’t know that wasn’t the right cleaner), and was verbally scorned ’til I was an inch tall. In my square box of a room I would call her (in my mind, and even that felt dangerous) my step-monster, or Satan if I felt really upset.
My friend Kristina called me up one bright afternoon and asked, “Would you like our piano?” I think my jaw hit the floor. “For free? Are you kidding me??!!!! YES!!!” I had no idea how I would squeeze a piano in my home, but I knew one thing—my kids would play. They would get lessons if they wanted and touch as much as they wanted. I danced in my living room, pumping my fists in the air. I never imagined that I would be fortunate enough to own a piano, and yet, there she stood. We all cooed and fawned over her. My son Finn plunked away free style, especially loving the low notes of danger, and my daughter Lilly, whose fingers are long and beautiful, took lessons and dazzled us all with the music she created. Watching her play felt like sweet redemption, tiny shoulders, poised so small in front of this incredible gift. I never cared if my children were any good at playing, I just wanted them to play.
It wasn’t until that moment that my hands hovered in the quiet house, totally alone, that I said, Yes Ashley—you get to play, too.
Ashley DeLatour will drop everything for a spontaneous adventure, believes passionately in creative living, and will always feed you if you come for a visit. Dancing in her living room with four tiny feet alongside hers and a very tall husband, she enjoys and savors every joyful moment within every normal day. Along with downing an audio book a week and a daily lumberjack thermos of coffee, she can be found working as a photographer, a Co-Op baker, mother, writer, and as a full-time student.