Nothing marks a fresh start quite like a new notebook. Clean lines, a stiff spine, and endless possibilities are tucked away in unmarked paper waiting to meet its pen.
It’s no secret to you, but I’ve been struggling to tighten up my writing habit. To sit down every day and scratch my pen against the eager pages.
My grandfather used to write in a journal every day, and some of those pages recently landed in my lap. I was young when he died and know him mostly through stories my Dad and my Gram Sara tell. Each time I turn a page, I can feel myself getting to know him better, even though he left us over 20 years ago. Some days are boring– recounting the weather and what he ate for lunch. But others describe his grief when his niece died in a car accident and when they lost the family dog, Meg. I feel tethered to him through turkey sandwiches and trips to the bank. Through family dinners and long walks. Through stories about my dad and uncle. Through grief and uncertainty and bouts of unbridled happiness.
And that’s just it, isn’t it? We are connected by the profoundly ordinary.
Most of us don’t live flashy lives. Our days are strung together by fleeting moments of love and pain and mailing the water bill.
I have been making this much more difficult than it needs to be. I don’t need to dream up a new story to tell. Perhaps our own stories are interesting enough.
We are hosting Christmas dinner this year for both of our families and for friends who can’t make it home to see theirs. Our dining room table, scratched and worn from moves across the eastern seaboard, only seats four. The guest list keeps growing, last I checked, we were expecting around 10. This is a problem that will need to work itself out– with a loaves and fishes type solution.
My first thought, before invoking a miracle of biblical proportions, was to grab the piano bench.
Growing up, we used the bench much more than we used the piano. It was filled with music ranging from Rodgers and Hammerstein to Shrimer’s book of scales. I remember trying to pick out the melodies from The Sound of Music, and other scores that were much more advanced than my training. I don’t remember much else about my fingers on the yellow-stained keys, but I remember dragging the piano bench into our kitchen.
Like on Thanksgiving, when my friends crammed into my parents’ house to eat cinnamon rolls and drink coffee with a larger creamer to java ratio. Like on holidays when my aunts and uncles and extended family members came to visit for dinner. Like when my girlfriends and I would sit at the computer and message cute boys on AOL Instant Messenger.
I’m not sure what happened to it. I am sure it landed in someone else’s home after my parents moved a few years ago. Whoever has it, I hope they are putting it to good use. Whether it’s to play the music of Rodgers and Hammerstein correctly (or not), to serve as a coffee table in a first apartment, or to provide some extra seating for guests.
That piano bench is a symbol of community and family. And that there’s always room for a few more at your table.