I don’t practice much, and I only returned recently. A girl of the age of 22, one with the name Adrianna. Every since I could remember, my dad had been teaching me how to play piano. It used to be a way to relax, to de-stress. I passed each official level with flying colors. Eventually, I was accepted into The Juilliard School. I was constantly playing for people, making money off of it. You could say I had several years of fame. I decided against accepting the Juilliard’s offer. Music was no longer a way to relax, instead it was a burden. Sitting down, several hours a day, to play piano became something I dreaded. I would see the sun bright and sunny, and by the time I finished practicing, the sun had gone to bed, just as I should have.
Standing here on the stage, scares me. My piano is by my side, a familiar companion on these stages. I performed here a lot when I was younger, but this is different. I’m looking out into the empty sea of chairs, thinking to myself, how many people would be here tonight? How will I do tonight? It was the morning and I needed to practice for myself and the theatre needed to set everything up. It’s first time I’m back on the black piano seat, with its velvet cushioning, I definitely miss it. At home, we use a regular seat, it’s just a flat, black, low rising seat that slides right next to the piano. Placing my fingers on the keys, there is almost a sense of pride, that I’m returning back to a hobby that went too far. I play a song, that took me way too long to memorize, that took me way too long to learn. My skill is nothing compared to what it was. Finishing the song, I could tell what I did wrong. My thrill was too slow, the tempo wasn’t enough. The petal parts were too short on my part. I needed to practice more. I never used to get like this. Quickly I practice again, and again, and again. Once again, it’s night. The sun had gone down, and you could almost hear the people lining up outside, getting ready to see me play.
My hands were shaking. I left my piano in the bright lights of the stage, and I quickly walked off. I needed to get ready for the performance. I switched into a graceful long, flowy dress, and got my makeup done. A few minutes before the performance, you could hear all the people getting ready and finding their seats. They were talking about how this teenager girl, who quit piano, who could have had a career in music, who got an offer from The Juilliard, decided to quit. This teenage girl who didn’t know anything, threw away everything that could have brought her money, and fame, and could have gave her all she needed to live her life. Now, she’s coming back to play. Is it because she realized she made a mistake? Was it too late? The audience was ready, to judge me, to decide for me, and for the rest of the world whether I still had the skill, whether I still deserved the fame. You could hear the tension in the air, the nervousness that was growing, and you could hear how loud my heartbeat was, along with all the the reporters getting ready to get all the information they needed.
I walk into the curtains, and the lights dim. Walking out into the brightly lit stage, I see a sea of people looking at me. I almost forgot how bright this lights were. I remember when I was a little kid, they theater would dim the lights just a bit, so I could focus. Sitting on the seat, it was so quiet, you could hear a pin drop. I press the first key, and everything that I’ve been keeping inside of me for 3 years left me. It flowed into song after song, note after note.
I was done. The first performance back. I didn’t make mistakes that a rookie would notice, I was a bit slow, just a bit. It was good. Taking the time, to bow after, I quickly rushed of the stage, where a bouquet of flowers were waiting for me. The note on it said, I’m proud and glad that you’re back, Dad.
I can’t help but smile at the note. Was he here? No. He would have been here in person, otherwise. Maybe he’s at home. I doubt it. It’s more likely he’s out working late, again, today. He was never really home after I quit piano. I remember the last time we argued about my piano. It was in the living room, and the sun had long set and Dad was sitting on the white couch when I entered into the room to tell him how I felt. He was so hopeful that it hurt me so much when he lost that hope for me at the end of the conversation.
“Dad, I can’t anymore,” I stared him right in the eye.
“You can’t what?”, he looked me back in the eye, with his brows burrowed.
“I can’t play anymore,”
“Because I can’t,”
“You have the ability, and that’s not enough reason to quit,”
“I have the ability, but I’m lacking the desire to play. I don’t want to play anymore-”
“It’s just an obstacle, you’ll get over it. Don’t worry, you just have to push through,”
“No. It’s not just an obstacle,”
“Yes, it is-”
“Dad! Listen. I don’t want to play anymore,”
“I’m up from sunrise to sunset, and all I’m doing is playing,”
“I don’t get to go out with my friends, I don’t get to go to the mall, I don’t get to-”
“If it’s because you’re missing out on stuff, I can assure you, it’s not worth quitting for-”
“That’s just it! I don’t want to play. I sit down and I don’t..”
“You don’t what?”
“I don’t like it anymore,”
Dad looked at me, then he looked down and sighed. He sat deeper in the couch and looked back up. I remember the dog laying down at my feet, her warmness contrasting with the cold wind coming from Dad.
“You’re too young to know. I’m going to make this decision for you, and for your future,”
“No. I’m going to make this decision, and I’ve already made it,”
“You have such potential. You’ll like it again, I promise,”
“How do you know? What if-”
“I know. Just trust me,”
“What if making me play will make me hate it?”
“Don’t you already hate it?”
“You know what, you are old enough to make your own decisions. I have given you enough, and I’ve helped you in any way I can. If you want to quit, quit. Just remember that I tried. I tried to stop you, but ultimately it’s your decision.”
“I assume you’re quitting,”
“Maybe I’ll play again in the future. You never know,”
“I said it’s unlikely,”
“How would you know?”
“Because, once you quit, you’ve made a stain. A stain in your life and your career. If you return, you will regret this moment. Once you’ve quit, you’ve quit, you can’t change the past, Adrianna,”