I can’t post only when I’m irritated.  Wouldn’t that make me a curmudgeon?  As hard a time as I’m having facing 50, I can’t allow myself to be an old coot who’s PO’d all the time.

I’m usually a glass-half-full kind of guy.  The last few years have been a little tough on the family since the economy tanked and I became unemployed.  But for the most part, I’m usually happy, a little spacey, overly chatty (enough so that my poor wife used to try to push me out the door early with my gym partner so she could actually have her morning coffee in silence.)

The white hair bothers me from time to time.  And the fact that there’s just a little too much “me” gets on my nerves too.  (Yeah, my fault.  I’m a stress eater.)  But sometimes, I can get a little melancholy over the tiny blonde standing in silence in the corner of my office.

When I was young, I found her like a treasure hidden away under my parents’ bed.  The story connected with her is tragic if true:  My mother bought her from an old man whose son originally purchased her when he was young.  He never came back from Viet Nam.  She was alone, mute, gathering dust singing for no one.

I was a rocker.  Well, I started out that way. Later than most kids pick up a guitar, I started playing at 17.  At first, I didn’t actually play.  I only learned to tune them so I could roadie for my brother’s local cover band.  If there was anyway that I could get out of the house, drink on the cheap and meet young, available girls, heck I was in.

Somewhere along the way, I got my heart broken.  After dark I’d sit on the steps in front of my house for hours at a time and strum, practice a chord or two and wallow in teenage misery compounded by an abusive household.  It didn’t take long for me to find the connection, the emotional escape I was looking for.  The only guitar in the house, a Penco, used to belong to my eldest brother.   Pencos were made in the same Japanese factory as the Ibanez, not a real expensive guitar, but I loved it all the same.  He never really played it, never spent much time on it at all.  When he left for college and took it with him, a piece of my soul left with it.  To this day I still badger him to sell it to me, but to no avail.  Maybe his first love?

Stranded, no money, no job, no guitar.  I used to borrow one from my neighbor, an old man I called my uncle Norm.  He was a hell of a fiddle player and he liked jamming anytime he could.  But my mother knew.  Knew that at that point in my life, sanity was six strings and whole lot of turmoil focused into hours of endless practice.  Without even knowing what is was, she bought the Strat as a Christmas present without telling me and hid it under her bed.  By that time in my life, I was beyond searching the house for Christmas presents.  My younger brother wasn’t however and promptly told me what he had found.  I slid it out from under the bed, opened the hard shell case and immediately went to tears.

I’m not really sure of her age.  Gentlemen don’t ask, a lady won’t tell and of course, she’s no exception.  I had an expert look at it once; there are some discrepancies with the dating on the stock and the body.  Who cares, she’s almost as old as I am.  I’ve had quite a few stringed friends come and go from my life, but she’s remained, always within reach.  I probably miss my 12 string the most, although my banjo was a blast and my violin just plain made me angry.

My Ovation has stayed too.  I bought her to throw over my shoulder when I was hopping on planes every other day, which was my life for quite a few years.  I’ve dragged that guitar so many places, picked it up so many times that the pick-up no longer works, but it sounds much better today than the day I brought it home.

I was in a music store with my wife one day and felt a tickle on the top of my head.  When I looked up, I noticed that the price tag of a beautiful Guild, which had been hung from the ceiling, was gently tapping me on the head, trying to get my attention.  It worked.  I walked out with the Guild and effectively ended the twice-monthly music store shopping trips I used to make my wife endure.

You can’t walk through our house without bumping into a guitar now that my youngest has the baby Taylor.  I cringe when the kids pick up the Strat, but I would love for one of them to eventually own it one day.  Aside from the Taylor, none of my instruments are younger than 25.  Between those four guitars and the old Piano, this house has always had some sort of music drifting through it.

Odd how the simplest things can bring new life.  A new capo for Christmas and I’m back to playing at least an hour a day.   I battle with arthritis now, some days I can’t quite get my hands to do what I want them to.  That’s maddening enough, but what’s devastating is that they won’t do what they once did, effortlessly and seemingly on their own.

And as I get slower, their voices get sweeter, richer, more refined, holding tones longer.   We’re aging in different directions.  I struggle to keep up while they’ve all found their voices, matured gracefully.   I can only hope to do the same. They certainly are old, beautiful things.

 

 

 

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