Monday, September 24, 2007

Pride and Joy

I have a couple of those "use-them-or-lose-them" vacation days this week. I used one today to do something I've been putting off for a couple of months: I took Jim's favorite guitar over to a well-known guitar dealer to be sold on consignment.

My delay wasn't for purely sentimental reasons, although my husband was so close to this instrument that when I picked it up, I felt like a pallbearer. "He must be dead," I reflected, "because the only way he would have let somebody else carry this guitar would be over his dead body."

I had been putting it off because I was afraid of rejection. Let's face it: Anyone who's ever watched "Antiques Road Show" or tried to sell their stuff on eBay or Craig's knows that their precious belongings have great them. To everyone else, it's worth considerably less, and to a city like New York that has everything, sometimes your treasures, material and otherwise, aren't worth anything.

But the well-known guitar dealer thought he could move it. "We sold one like this for Bob recently." I thought, "You mean, the Bob?" But I was cool. Yeah, right.

He took the instrument out of the case and tenderly removed the cloth that Jim had wrapped around the body to keep it from being damaged.

"This is very well cared for."

"Yeah. It was his pride and joy." I felt my voice beginning to break and I tried to remember whether being a weeping widow was supposed to get you more money with this type of transaction or get you taken advantage of. To avoid a meltdown, I thought of all of the times that Jim wouldn't let me within ten feet of that guitar if I'd just come out of the shower with a wet head--and in a 300-square-foot apartment, that's not easy. And all the times I couldn't walk within ten feet of the guitar if the cats were awake, because they would follow me. And all the peaceful reveries of me typing and him playing, interrupted by a sudden, startling "No! No! Get these cats out of here!"

It's times like that when you realize how much your possessions own you.

I left the store, agreement signed, free from the care of worrying about the guitar the way I'd been freed from worrying about Jim as much once he was safely at St. Rose's. Both guitar and musician were useless without one another, and if I were going to take up playing some time in the future, I would pick another type of guitar anyway. This one was right for Jim's hands and Jim's style, and it'll be right again someday for someone I don't know. Meanwhile, guitar and player are together again on my tapes and in my memories, and I have a little more valuable closet real estate to hold whatever is next for the living.

I felt my voice silently beginning to break as I read this. That was a big piece to let go.
Wow! You let go of his guitar with such grace. Tomorrow will two years for me and I still can't imagine letting go of his guitars. Other things went fast, but not those. But I will keep in mind what you said about the usefulness of one without the other; instrument without musician. The keyboard, I'm keeping for me.
It wasn't as easy to let go as it seems. I had to avert my eyes for a minute when the guy was examining the guitar, to keep from yelling "Waaaaait!" and diving over the counter.

There was a vintage synth that Jim suggested I keep, because of my love for New Wave music. But I can barely pick out "Chopsticks" on a keyboard and I'd thought, "Oh great, another learning curve" so I gave that one away (it was worth only about $40.)

It was huge, bigger than the guitar. My rationale for not keeping it was, again, if I were to take up the keyboard, I would probably choose an instrument that was right for my hands and my style.

Jim did this too, with his father's guitar, a D'Angelico acoustic model from the '30s. It wasn't right for him, and the money he could get from selling it would buy other instruments that were right.
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