At first I was going to write about the NHL and the Toronto Maple Leafs and...well, I need a little time and distance first. There's still too much to process!
Speaking of time and distance, I haven't the time to write much of anything because in a few minutes I'll be going the distance! Well, some distance from here...I'm on vacation and so the compass is pointed firmly North! So's my car. See ya next week!
For as long as I can remember, I have been fascinated with the guitar. Ever since I was a small child, I remember being excited when my dad would bring out his old acoustic guitar and somehow, magically, use it to make a song! Even the case for the guitar was magical to me...and made a great hill to send hot wheels cars down, too!
Well, I've owned lots of guitars over the years, and played even more, but if you were to look into my mind and DEFINE the word guitar, the one that I would picture is that old acoustic that my dad played. A big old "Texas large body" sunburst acoustic guitar...gigantic and older than me, purchased from my uncle for a set of golf clubs sometime in the 70's...
I'll never forget the rainy day at the cottage in the Summer of '92...my 15th year...I was there with my parents and bored, stuck indoors...my mom suggested that maybe dad could show me a couple of chords on the guitar since we'd brought it up with us. I think both dad and I were a little too shy to bring that idea up to each other, but we both said "Sure!" as soon as mom suggested it. Beats yet another game of Monopoly, right? Mom must have known how much I wanted to learn guitar, and maybe how much dad wanted to show me, too. That day marked the first time I ever got to pick up that old guitar and play it for real, in a meaningful way...the first step on the path from being a curious kid to being a real guitar player! Dad taught me 9 chords that day, A-G and Em and Am...I couldn't really get F or B right away, but I learned the fingering at least!
Mom helped out too, with an old chord chart she had taped to the back of a notebook of church songs...I practiced those chords all day long and wrote my first 3 or 4 songs right then and there just to help me learn. Played until my fingers were sore and bleeding and then played some more...I just never looked back. Withing a year I was 16, had my own guitar, (a Fender Strat with a little practice amp), and big big plans to be a rock and roll star!
Of course, even after I got my Fender I still played dad's old guitar all the time. Carried it around my high school every day. Serenaded the smoking spot out back during break, along with all the other would-be rock stars, pretending I was too cool for the little 9th grade girls who watched us play and wrote our names on their 3-ring binders (surrounded by hearts and smiley faces, of course!).
Then one day, a couple of years later, I was tuning that old acoustic guitar when tragedy struck!! The bridge of the guitar (where the strings attach at the bottom) finally gave up and came free of the guitar's body! I was flabbergasted! I didn't have any money or even know that there were people out there that could repair a guitar, so I tried to fix it myself...got some wood glue and some clamps and reattached the bridge...crossed my fingers and hoped for the best!
And you know what? It worked...sort of. When I put on new strings after the glue dried, the tension proved too great or I maybe didn't quite attach it right or something...the bridge cracked and broke under the guitar strings...BUT...it stayed attached and it still worked! As long as I used light gauge strings and tuned down a half-step, the guitar still played alright. It was never the same though. Rattly and just..."off" somehow. After that, my dad's old guitar started to be more for show than for playing...neglected in favour of newer guitars that played easier...
Well this all happened 15 years or more ago. When I left my parents house, I left the guitar too...bought my own acoustic and made my own life and moved on...until now! This year, being debt free for the first time since I was in high school, and actually having a little extra cash, I decided I needed to finally do something for this old guitar, my true first love. I got the guitar from my parents place (my dad didn't mind...he plays a new 12-string acoustic these days and sounds mighty good doing it, too!) and took it to The Twelfth Fret, a guitar store at Woodbine and Danforth that had done some wiring and tuning work on my old Stratocaster last year. I wasn't sure if they could do anything for this guitar but I figured it was worth a shot. I was super nervous that any attempt at repair would make things worse after my amateur, botched repair job of years ago. Still, I had to try!
Well, the guy at the Twelfth Fret said they should be able to fix the guitar, but it would cost way more than it was actually worth. I told him that I didn't care about the money. I might not get much for this guitar if I ever (God Forbid!) tried to sell, but this guitar was priceless, nonetheless! Not just to me but to my whole family. The repair man understood, as anyone who's ever loved a guitar would...He said he'd do his best and give me a call when it was finished.
Well, just this Wednesday I got that call. Not only was my dad's old guitar ready, but the man at the Twelfth Fret went above and beyond the call! He got a chunk of rosewood from the lumber yard special and hand-carved me a brand new bridge! He even managed to get the pearl inlays from the old bridge to keep the look of the original! It looks so good I couldn't believe it! Even more importantly, as I picked up this beautiful old guitar and strummed it the first few times I realized that it sounds better than it has in years and years! As good or even better than it sounded when I first broke the bridge all those years ago! I'd forgotten how nice and mellow and deep the tone could be...although I admit, I'm probably pretty biased. Regardless, I couldn't be happier with the great new bridge and the old-school sound! That man at the Twelfth Fret is a hero to me and I can't thank him enough!
I brought the guitar back to my parent's place yesterday to show it off to them. My dad played it for a long time and so did I...mom was so happy to hear it sound so nice after all these years. Then, something I didn't expect...dad told me I should take it home with me again to keep at my place! After all this time, after all of the blood and love and money and time that I've poured into it, he says the guitar is as much mine as his...he considers it the "family guitar" now and is content to play it when we get together. So now here I am with this lovely old guitar, prominently on a stand in my living room, and every time I glance at it I smile. It's hard for me to explain just how it makes me feel...this story just barely scratches the surface...but it means much and more to me. Maybe some of you musicians and some of you sons out there will understand. It's beautiful. Thanks Twelfth Fret and especially Thanks, Dad. I love you.
So here I sit, waiting around all morning...waiting on guys to come haul away my old couches, waiting for my laundry to finish, waiting on OTHER guys to come and deliver my NEW couches!
You'd think with all of this time on my hands I would have thought of something more interesting to write about. Well...you'd think wrong...
I've always had a hard time letting things go. One look around my toy-filled apartment proves that statement. Even when my things are no good anymore and I'm getting much better replacements, I still find it tough to throw them away. This morning was no exception, as it was surprisingly bittersweet to watch my junky old couches get hauled away...end of an era!
Perhaps I tend to confuse change with loss. I guess that's probably because for the most part in my experience, the two have been synonymous. It doesn't have to be that way. Just a lot of times it is.
BUT not today! The new couches have arrived!
New Couch Number 1! Zero-Zero-Zero...
I wasn't expecting the weird divider thing in the middle of the love
seat. Seems like it might make it more difficult for said piece of
furniture to live up to it's name. Oh well, the part is removable, so
for now I'll give it a chance. Not like I've got a lot of opportunities that might make it in the way, anyway. At least not right at the moment...
New Couch Number 2
So there you have it! Out with the old and in with the new! Now if you'll excuse me, I have to get back to all of that important SITTING I had planned!
It reminds me of something I heard the other day...about modern life and how one goal of our civilization seems to be making all of us as comfortable as possible. A worthy goal, perhaps...however, there's a lack of character that seems to arise as a side-effect.
Case in point, here I am whining about my cold rather than being a man and sucking it up.
The quote that crossed my mind was "growing comfortable with discomfort." Something that certainly I could stand to do...
I frequently think of the novel "The Drawing of the Three" by Stephen King when I am trying to push through circumstances that I would rather not abide, but for whatever reason must. I remember how the main character, the Gunslinger, was gravely sick and wounded...feverish with infection...and yet he was unrelenting. He accepted his extreme discomfort and refused to give in to it, despite the near certainty that death would result.
Do I have that kind of willpower? Almost certainly not. I'm a bit of a wuss, I admit. I'd like to, though. As I am getting older, perhaps my tenacity is growing as well....certainly experience tempers one's tendencies towards overreacting...
It's just doing what you need to do, despite circumstances. Being comfortable with discomfort. It's worth a shot...