Monday, June 8, 2009

New Ukes

Lauren and I have two new ukuleles. Blond faced with vinyl grills and four perfectly symmetrical strings like lovers' ski tracks running down the neck.

We actually already have two ukuleles, two sopranos we bought in Austin after reading Tom Hodgkinson's The Freedom Manifesto. We quickly learned some chords; I could play Five Foot Two with only slightly awkward pauses. We sent out a video to our family and learned that my dad and stepmom and sister all play, and play well. Images of the Von Tramps instantly came to mind, to all our delight.

On this visit to Dallas, Kathy, my stepmom, gifted us these two new ukes that twang with promise and delight like polished orphans, four-string Eloises on their first night in the Plaza Hotel. A baritone for me and a concert size uke for Lauren. With these options available, now we want to keep the two original sopranos. But after so much effort to pare down it hardly makes sense for us to have four ukuleles. Right?

I've never been very musical, which was strange because Kathy's a music teacher. More and more, though, I'm thinking that I should be. I want to connect those synapses, to open those doors in my mind. I want to explore that range of human intelligence and that vehicle for articulation and self discovery. And I want to make something lovely. I want to play lauren a love song or perhaps calm a loosed zoo animal. I want to add to the beautiful things in the world and in my own home, sit next to Lauren in folding chairs backdropped by the airstream and play to an audience of Marlowe and night crickets, to sing what I didn't know I wanted to say, to pluck and croon, to sit at that galactic drum circle first imagined by Pythagoras and harmonize with the music of the spheres--the music we never hear because it's present at our birth and plays unceasingly as our frets wear down and our strings fray, until our sounding board, threadbare and splintered, gasps its final chord, a C7.