Wednesday, May 13, 2009

“Breathing Life” © 2009 Pia Villanueva-Pulido

The best spot in the house is the corner bookshelf in what used to be her mother's formal dining room when she was growing up. Now she converted the room into a mini-library filled with all kinds of books she has collected since her undergrad years as an English/Lit major. Those were the years when possibilities like the Great American Novel followed by a Nobel Prize were within reach. HA! What a joke.

How do I get out of here? She thought to herself, shaking her head, as she longingly glanced at the row of paperback Shakespearean tragedies. She walked away from her books, as if avoiding a temptation that would be impossible to resist if she dared to take another step forward, left the room, and didn't look back.

Walking past the small dining area and a narrow kitchen led her to another “best spot” in the house. When she was 12, it used to be what her mother called a “game room” where she had all her daycare kids and grandkids play during the day. Her mother quit the daycare business to take care of an elderly aunt, so it became a laundry and storage room. By the time she was out of college and married, it became a music studio. But the original homeowners used it as a garage. For her family, it had been anything but a garage.

She entered the room and heard her husband rhythmically counting and snapping, “1, 2, 3, 4, 1,2,3,4,” as a student attempted to follow his beat on the drums. She knew better than to disturb the fast-forward pace of his lessons, so she shut the door and walked back to the kitchen.

“Mommy, I'm hungry!” Her four-year old daughter announced, rubbing her belly exaggeratedly. Moments later, his metronome counting and the banging on the drums faded.

Oh, eternal gratitude!

But before she could even catch her breath to take out the toaster and some ham and cheese, she heard the electric guitar and his familiar three-chord progression technique he always used on beginner students. “It's a universal three chord trick,” he lectured to the little second grader. “If you practice just five minutes a day using these three chords, you can play any song you want.” That was his hook, and it always worked. The kids always walked out of his music lessons excited and passionate.
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