Thursday, December 23, 2010

Burntcore Week 31: Music to Move You


Picture 1

Picture 2

Burntcore's Choice: Picture 2

Music to Move You

Cory’s surprise was not what I had expected at all. I watched him with amusement on my face as he dug through the contents of the chest that he had brought out in the meadow. He said that it contained memories and a surprise. What he didn’t tell me was the two were the same thing.

So many of our memories had music affiliated with them. Movies we went to where we later bought the soundtrack, concerts we went to together, songs we listened to as we lazed around our apartment on the weekends, music we made love to, music we fought was an integral part of our relationship. When Cory left, it was hard for me to listen to music for some time. Over time, I was able to enjoy my favorite songs again. It was never quite the same, but it was something.

I sat on the grass on my wool blanket in surprise as Cory pulled out a Casio keyboard. It wasn’t one of those big professional ones but a moderately sized one for the amateur aficionado. I never knew he played. He certainly never played an instrument while we were together.

Cory chuckled as he took in my face. “I learned how to play in prison. I took out books on how to play piano from the prison library and practiced when I could at the piano we had in our common room. It was beat to hell but it was in tune and it was one of our most prized possessions there. The guards would only roll it out for a few hours a day. Any other time it was kept under lock and key.”


“They didn’t want anyone to take the wires from the piano and try to garrote someone with them,” he replied simply.

I sat in stunned silence. It was just another example of how different our lives had become. If someone had mentioned piano wires to me, my first thought wouldn’t be to use them as a weapon.

Cory continued as he unpacked the keyboard. “Sometimes, when it was my turn to play, some of the guys that knew how to play would help me with some of the tougher parts of the piano books. When I didn’t have the piano to practice on, I had a paper keyboard in my cell to play. It definitely wasn’t the same but it was better than nothing.”

I smiled softly as Cory finished his story. After the keyboard was set up, he dug around in the chest again and pulled out a photo album. He handed it to me shyly.

“I didn’t have much with me when I left, so I came back a few days later when I knew you were at work and got some stuff. I didn’t take much, just some clothes and a few photos that were my favorite.”

“I remember,” I replied softly. That night, discovering that Cory had been back, only to collect some of his things and not even bother with a note, had been rough. I curled up in a ball on my couch and cried for hours.

“When I was jailed, I had my friend I had been staying with send me the photos. I kept them on the wall of my cell for the longest time. There were more memories then just those few, so many memories. So I started this.” He gestured to the unopened album in my hands. “Any time I saw anything that reminded me of you or of us, I put it in the album.”

Awed, I slowly opened up the album. The first page was the few pictures he had taken. The next pages were an amazing testament to his devotion to me.

“As I was going through AA in jail, anytime I would start to doubt myself or want to give up, I’d pull this out and flip through the pages. It helped remind me why I was there and what I needed to do.”

One picture was a woman in a magazine who had hair the same color as mine. One page had a flower pressed between its pages: a Gerber daisy, my favorite flower. Another page had a small rough sketch of the side of a woman’s face. It looked vaguely familiar.

“That’s you,” Cory commented as he watched me look through his album. “One night I was feeling inspired and started drawing. I’m not really any good but it seemed to look like you.”

I nodded, tears welling up in my eyes. “It does.”

I flipped through the rest of the pages, bits of paper and things that Cory had collected. It was amazing. I stared at a four-leaf clover in the album and got caught up in a memory of one particular St. Patrick’s Day. It started out so well but derailed by the end of the night when Cory’s drinking caught up with him. Before I went down memory lane with that entire night, I was distracted by music coming from the keyboard.

Cory had started to play, quietly at first but with more intensity as he got into the music. I watched him as he played, his hands floating up and down the keyboard with his eyes closed. I recognized the song right away and started laughing.

It was the music that was played during halftime of the Superbowl game we watched where we went from just friends to more. I was amazed that he remembered it.

I gently put the album down and just watched Cory. I watched the man that I still loved play love songs for me, reaffirming his feelings to me. He segued the halftime music to other songs that we had both liked. He was trying to show me every time he could that he still cared and that he wanted things to continue.

I agreed, but I was scared of history repeating itself. I believed that Cory had truly given up alcohol, and was considered a recovering alcoholic, but didn’t they all have times where they backslid and found themselves off the wagon again? I didn’t want to go through that again. I wouldn’t go through that again.

The more and more that Cory tried, the more and more he chipped away at my doubts and fears. This is what I needed. I needed to be reassured. Promises were foolish and would just set us both up to be hurt... but this? This constant devotion? Perhaps I could work with this.