Letters from Lorraine VI
Not a whole lot to report, but I do have some exciting news — I bought a piano! And, no, I don’t remotely know how to play it. But I am going to learn.
I took piano lessons when I was eleven years old from the neighbor’s daughter across the street. I don’t remember being forced to do this, like most kids were back then; my parents were not the enforcer types. But I had a healthy amount of curiosity as a child and was fascinated with music.
I loved my piano lessons and began pleading with my mother to buy one for the house so I could practice and seriously learn to play. I received a flat NO every time I asked, so naturally I lost interest in that wonderful instrument. Now I am convinced that was her plan all along.
I watched the Ed Sullivan Show everything Sunday night and became fixated with the dancer Juliet Prowse. Soon she became the object of my obsessions. I constantly danced around the house and begged my mother to let me take dance lessons. She eventually relented to my endless naggings, and later in life, I found out why — x-nay to the piano but o-kay to the dance — she did not want banging piano sounds in her house. She apparently, though, had no problem driving me way across town to dance class for a few hours. Don’t get me wrong, my mother was a fabulous parent.
Consequently, I became a dancer and left Alabama at the age of eighteen. And as a result, the piano waited nearly sixty years to reappear in my life.
And this is how it happened.
My neighbors and I knew a pianist and a singer had moved onto our street, Centenario. We could hear beautiful music and songs being sung as we walked past a Grecian-style villa three houses down from mine. But none of us had met the two handsome Mexican men who lived there and created the beautiful music together. One morning, while walking alone with Pearl and Ruby, the pianist, Alberto, was standing on the sidewalk in front of his house.
He could tell I was American, and I sensed he knew English, so I struck up a conversation, and within one minute — I’m not exaggerating — I had signed up for piano lessons. And three days later, with his and my neighbor Ann’s help, I had bought a gorgeous new Yamaha digital piano! Yes, just like that. Now that there is no mother to irritate and the only person who has the power to stop me, is me, I am going to attempt to learn the piano.
And why should I stand in the way from fulfilling a wish that truthfully never left my conscious? If I had a bucket list, I could now check the piano-longing-box off, but, frankly, I never had one of those lists. I am a firm believer in the art of winging it. Actually, I did make a type of bucket list several years ago, but my list consisted of all the things I definitely will never do, one being voting Republican.
The dogs are great, their mom is pretty good most days, but my honeymoon with San Miguel de Allende was somewhat shattered a few weeks ago. Julian and Witcho are the men who did most of the work I’ve had done on my house — all the house painting and the wall I described in one of my letters. Witcho, the older one (he was fifty-four), suddenly died. Julian appeared one day and told me he had passed away. I truly thought he was kidding, but sadly he was not. Witcho, a severe alcoholic, had a heart attack while taking medication to help him not drink. I never suspected he was a heavy drinker, and as I am sober nineteen years now, I was surprised I did not notice.
I have been heartbroken over his death, and then a baby grackle bird, who had fallen from his nest and whom I was trying to save, died. I had little Louie, who I loved dearly, eating for a week, and I thought he was going to make it, but I think he choked on his food and suddenly died. I was and still am heartbroken. I felt responsible, even though I had no idea the extent of his injuries when he fell.
I had wonderful images of Louie all grown, perched on his stand on my piano as I practiced. Naturally, though, these fantasies did not include the copious amounts of bird poop splattered all over my beautiful new piano or my adopted cat, Oliver, and Ruby, the puppy, trying to kill him every waking minute.
Such is life, and such is its truth.
Yes, the inescapability realities of life have caught up with me in San Miguel. But I love it here, and some days, rare as they are, I find a peace I had almost forgotten existed.
A few of the photos below are of a wonderful little town named Atotonilco that’s twenty-five minutes from SMA. I went there with my Canadian friend Carol a few Saturdays ago. It has two churches, one very famous for its unusual architecture. The town caters to the Mexican people much more than tourists, so there is an authentic Mexican ambiance to it. I’m looking forward to going there again.
I miss the Vineyard, I miss my store, I miss all of you terribly, but as I have said before, I could not have it all.
However, I do not miss that awful road in front of my house, I do not miss the traffic or the sometimes-hostile new people who have moved to the island, nor do I miss my mortgage payments and the endless number of bills that, for many years, I struggled to pay just to keep it going.
Fuck, I’m seventy, time for a break!
Time to learn the piano, time to write to my heart’s content, time for my dogs, time to travel. Time for me!
P.S. Along with my rekindled dream of playing the piano, during the seven years I have been writing — whether it be these letters, my book, essays, or screenplays — I have had beautiful piano music playing in the background — just like now.
By the way, I am on page 145 of my book, roughly thirty more pages to go, then a big rewrite, which I am looking forward to, believe it or not!