Today, I put my childhood violin up for consignment. Since the early 00’s, I’ve been lugging it from apartment to apartment. Once in a while I would open the case to make sure it wasn’t broken. I didn’t play it, but it was a part of me. The feelings were the same as the ones I held for my old pointe shoes. Both were such a part of my childhood that getting rid of them seemed unthinkable. Why would I get rid of a part of my childhood?
Then a few weeks ago, I was digging through my cedar chest looking for a purse, when I realized that I still had my violin, hadn’t played it, and wouldn’t miss it if I got rid of it. Truthfully, I even felt a little guilty because it was a beautiful instrument, probably Japanese made, that was at least fifty years old. And it just sat in my storage chest, collecting dust. I thought the violin deserved to be with someone who would use it, enjoy it, as I had.
I started playing when I was ten. I remember asking my mom, if I could start lessons, and she encouraged me. She had played as a kid and so had her father. My dad wasn’t musically inclined, but he like the idea of his daughter playing the “fiddle”. So, for the next ten years I played.
In school, I didn’t work on the newspaper or hang out with the theater kids. I was a music girl. I played in orchestra and was a flag girl for the marching band. Violin, along with dance (mostly ballet), was my creative outlet. I did write stories, but that was in secret. My writing was a private affair. But music became a wonderful outlet too. I knew I would never be a famous concert violinist, but being a part of a creative community was very fulfilling. We would laugh and joke in class. I hummed classical music, along with the pop songs of the day. I can’t really explain it, but there was something magical about drawing my bow against the strings and hearing a wonderful melody of a song. It was fun and became an area that I could focus myself. (And yeah, it saddens me that music programs are being cut. They add so much to a school experience.)
As I got older, my interest in playing waned. I took a few classes in college, but once I got deeper in my English major, the violin went into storage and floundered there for the next 17 years. Until I took it to the shop today. The same shop my parents went to and bought it for me. The owner even had the original receipt, which he kindly photocopied so I could show my mother. As I filled out the paperwork to consign the violin, one of the shop workers teased me.
“Are you sure you want to sell?” Her voice was soft, like she was asking me if I wanted to end an intimate relationship.
“Yes,” I said firmly. “I want it to go to someone who will love it and play it.”
Perhaps one day, in another 17 years, I will want to play again. I still set aside one pre-programmed button in my car for the classical station. I flip over every now and then when I want to get my Beethoven on. I still love live concerts and wish I went to more of them. But for now, I am content to be a listener, not a player.
I didn’t feel any sadness leaving my violin in the store. If there is one emotion I could pinpoint, it would be nostalgia. I even took a drive by my childhood home, just because I was in the neighborhood. But there was no regret, no pang of wanting my instrument back. I had loved it and let it go. Now it was time for someone else to love this violin. Maybe they will find a group of odd misfits that love Mozart, or maybe it will be a senior citizen who played as a child and wants to rekindle that love. Who ever gets it will be lucky. I think the violin is filled with positive energy. I should know. It’s from me.