Saturday, September 18, 2010

Yeah. I miss it.

I feel like a few of the skeletons in my closet have been stalking me.

See, I recently moved off campus, to tackle my final year of college in a much more adult-friendly atmosphere. It's not too far away from campus, but I am now situated in such a place that I have to pass the local music conservatory at least twice a day. If I leave the house, that is.

It shouldn't mean that much, passing a conservatory. It shouldn't make me want to walk inside. It shouldn't remind me of the way I could have been living my life right now. It shouldn't hurt. It shouldn't, but it does.

See, I used to be a serious musician. My dad's played classical guitar for forty years now, and on my tenth birthday I tried to follow in his footsteps. It was a lame attempt, granted, but in my senior year of high school, when I was convinced that music was my life, I started taking private lessons. This was all under the assumption, of course, that Northwestern would want me for both my journalistic insight and my musical skills.

Starting private lessons changed my life. That's not an understatement, but it's probably not as epic as you're imagining. I made weekly trips to one of the most beautiful buildings in downtown Milwaukee. I practiced guitar about an hour (ok, a half an hour) a day, serenading myself and my neighbors with estudios and scales galore. I worked with a talented guitarist and performed with my peers in numerous recitals.

And I got into the school of music at Northwestern, but not the school of journalism.

Knowing what I know now, I count my lucky stars for not getting into journalism. For starters, I'm not a journalist. The rigorous, unforgiving program creates drop outs monthly. It might have been the academic kiss of death for me, trying to survive a program like that while going through my musical identity crisis.

On the first day, I realized that music wasn't for me. Not that I didn't love bringing out my guitar and learning something new, or better yet, playing something I already knew until my soul sang with the melody. But I didn't have the passion that everyone else did. It was so obvious how much they bled music, and how much I didn't. On top of that, I wasn't writing. At all. No time, in between not practicing, guilty lessons, and accelerated music theory (no, I wasn't accelerated, I had scheduling issues).

I told myself that it was just nerves, but my guitar became the enemy, along with anything remotely associated with it. By winter break I decided to switch majors, or as I've phrased it so many times, I quit. I quit music, and a small part of me has hated myself ever since.

The truth is I didn't practice enough to keep up, and I'm not sure if "I didn't want to" is a good enough excuse. I know I've written bits of this story on this blog before. I've written personal essays justifying my choice. I've compared it to writing to prove my own passion, but in the end, I feel just as guilty as the day I filled in my change of major papers.

I still have my guitar. I strum chords and sing alternative music. I even wrote a song or two. But I forgot most of the classical music and scales I learned in high school. My fingers don't move as fast, and I can't read music like I used to. Where does this leave me? Not completely lost, but not completely found, either. Caught in my usual bout of indecisiveness, more like. I love words, but I love music more than I care to admit.

And I'm not sure how to deal with it, because pulling out my guitar and half-assing a song I could play at 17 isn't enough. I feel like I gave up on a part of myself, and a simple "sorry" just won't do it.

I have to pass the conservatory after I post this. I wish I could pretend that it's just another building, but it's not. It's a guitar-shaped skeleton in my closet, and it's stalking me.

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