I’m going to talk about something very, very close to my heart today.
Most of the time, I can be very forthright about my deepest feelings; I assume that’s why so many of you read this blog; it’s unusual to see someone baring their soul, and I do it somewhat regularly.
Even so, we all have parts of ourselves that are more personal than others. There is, for example, a memory I don’t feel comfortable talking about. I won’t go into specifics, other than to say it’s one of the few times I’ve felt spiritual fulfilment in my life. It says a lot about who I am, but talking about it on this blog feels… cheap. Not right.
There are topics that can’t be talked about in any old way. Some should only be discussed in person, others with pure honesty and forthrightness. I feel like the topic of today’s post is one that I can only talk about in a very roundabout way. In more of a spiral than a straight line like most of my other posts.
So… today’s post is sort of about the Beatles.
(but it’s really not)
When I was 14 or so, I was grounded over something stupid. I can’t remember what it was exactly, but I’m sure it was because I was so misunderstood and my parents were oh, so clueless. You know, typical teenage stuff. Anyway. My mum and dad decided to take away my computer and iPod for a week, because they wanted to ground me with the two things I used most.
I shrugged it off at first, thinking I’d just read my way through it. After a few days however, I started feeling really anxious. I couldn’t live without my music. I was REALLY into the Beatles back then, and I remember trying to sing some Beatles songs in my room, but really being miserable without being able to listen to the actual music.
I was beyond happy when I finally got my iPod back, but it did set me thinking. I hated the feeling of helplessness and being so disconnected from music. So I decided it was time for me to learn a musical instrument, so I would always be able to make music.
It took me a couple of years and a lot of practise, but I eventually learned how to play the guitar. I’ve never been amazing, but I became good enough to play my favourite songs, which is all I really wanted.
That was nice.
As fun as it was, and playing the guitar IS really fun, I never saw it as much more than a more hands-on way of enjoying music.
Then I discovered the ukulele. Oh dear, oh dear.
I chose it mostly because it seemed quirky and fun, and I had my first real job and more money than I knew what to do with. So I bought an ukulele, despite not knowing how to play it.
It wasn’t hard. The chords were different from the guitar, but they required the same sort of movement in my fingers and hands, and it didn’t take long to pick it up.
The ukulele was different.
This might sound cheesy or ridiculous if you’ve never felt this yourself, but my ukulele honestly felt like another part of me. I’ve never been good at singing, but with my uke, it really felt like I could finally express all my feelings out loud. I didn’t need to use words, and I wasn’t simply repeating someone else’s music. With my ukulele the music I played, no matter what it was, felt MINE. I didn’t just play Beatles songs now, I played the way Beatles songs resonated in me.
The ukulele helped give me a kind of joy I never knew I was missing, but which felt right. After a few months, going without my uke for more than a few days felt as unnatural as cutting one of my ears off. It really was part of me.
This post is also about my loneliness.
I am a very friendly person, but I often come across as aloof, mean, and arrogant. It sucks, because under my cynical and cold exterior, I love talking to people and making friends.
So I end up with this big desire to make friends, but a reality where many people don’t talk to me, nevermind befriend me. In the last 6 years I’ve made a total of two real friends. I’m not even kidding. Two people. That’s all.
As with precious jewels and metals, the difficulty I have making friends makes them that much more valuable to me.
I met one of those friends three years ago. I didn’t think much of them at first, but I quickly warmed up to them. They have a very infectious joy that spreads easily to other people, and it endeared them to me. It took time, but we eventually became close.
I tried to reciprocate their cheeriness with what I had. This was before pre-transition, so the fire of joy I have now was fairly subdued, but I did have my music. So I taught them how to play the ukulele, and helped them discover their own love for it. It was wonderful to see them grow to live it just as I did, and some of my fondest memories are of the two of us playing ukulele together, letting the songs inside of us play.
I won’t go into further details, because a public blog is not the place to talk about relationships with others, no matter how vaguely you refer to them.
All that’s relevant is that this person, one of the handful of people who have ever been close to me, eventually stopped being one of them. We stopped talking, and we were no longer friends, and suddenly, the only person in my life who shared my love for the ukulele wasn’t there anymore.
The first few months after they left my life were somewhat mitigated by the fact I’d just come out, and was enjoying finally getting to live as myself. Still, there were days when I felt lonely, or sad, or when I missed my friend.
I would take out my ukulele and play something, but after a few minutes I would find myself crying.
That never happened before.
It didn’t matter what I played, whether it was cheerful, or silly, or what genre. Playing my uke would only remind me that the one person I played to more than any, and who played to me as well, was gone.
It’s been a year and a month, and I feel like I’m being torn apart. I miss my ukulele. I feel incomplete.
Playing sports and going out as myself, and writing have all helped express part of me, but nothing is like music. The song inside me is stuck inside, and everytime I pick up my old friend to play some music, I’m reminded of the person that’s no longer in my life, and suddenly every note feels sour, and I have to stop.
I wonder when this will pass, and I’ll be able to play my ukulele again.
I miss my music.