As I remember things, it feels as though all of this happened yesterday and not years ago, just before my 16th birthday.
”Alexandria? Are you getting ready?” My mother had that frustrated, stressed tone in her voice, the way she always did before someone new came to the house.
To be honest, I was deeply unhappy. Lots of dark thoughts were flooding my brain. Awake or asleep, horrid, hurtful, inky, nasty unhappiness was on me. I hated everything about my life and myself. I was just another stupid, ugly girl whose parents didn’t love her enough to stay together.
"Mom, why do I have to do this?! When we lived in Ohio you took me to Miss Diane's for piano lessons. Why does HE have to come here?"
"Because things are different now, honey," mom said, trying unsuccessfully to console me. “Mr. Forza travels to all of his student's homes for lessons."
"Well, I think it's stupid," I sulked and stood between the kitchen and living room, staring across at our baby grand, trying to imagine what this new piano teacher was going to be like. I'd been with Miss Diane since I first started playing in second grade. She was sweet, kind and patient with me, even when I didn't practice as hard as I should have. And she was a WOMAN! I loved having a woman teacher. They seemed more, more, like understanding, somehow.
And, when I finished a practice book, for my achievement, Miss Diane took me into her dining room and served me a slice of chocolate cake. My God, how that woman could bake!
”Every little bit you learn grows you up from the inside out, Allie,” she reminded me with a little hug at my shoulders. I loved Miss Diane.
Now, today, everything is changing in the most awful way possible. I have to learn piano from a MAN!
Of course, I'd never had a man teach me anything — except dad, when he showed me how to use sandpaper — before his relationship with mom started to feel like sandpaper. It was different learning from dad. He felt safe, at least before things got ugly with mom.
This man, this -- whatever his name is -- is a complete stranger. Even though I’d never met him, I knew I was going hate everything about him.
"Go upstairs and shower and put on your pink and red flowered dress, dear. You don't want to stink when Mr. Forza gets here."
"Ughhhh!!!" My anger and frustration burned aloud for mom to hear.
“Mr. Stupid Forza Stinks!” I muttered as I climbed the stairs for my room.
This is going to be awful. I think I should quit piano altogether. That's it! I'll play so horrible for him that he'll tell mom I'm hopeless and he can't teach anyone who's so dumb and awful and ugly like me.
Besides, what kind of man teaches piano? He's probably going to be fat and short and nerdy and have stinky breath — ugh! I don't even want to think about it!
Showered, dried off, hair blown dry and sort of brushed out, I stepped toward the top of the stairway in my stupid party dress — hating myself more than ever and totally hating the situation I was in — shaking like a leaf.
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