My upstairs neighbors seem to have a piano- or maybe an incredible sound system that perfectly mimics the sound of a piano. Whoever is tickling the ivories is supremely talented, the crisp notes float down on the summer breeze past my open windows, and bass notes reverberate through the cement walls of the old building.
From the sound of voices and footfalls, it seemed that a fun party was going down. I smiled at the thought and drank my beer to beat the humidity and revel, if vicariously, in their merriment. It is midweek, a Wednesday night, but midsummer, so I’d imagine a good number of people are on vacation.
For what seemed to be a festive occasion the piano seems oddly melancholy. Something of a jazz standard seemed to be the tune, but it is played far sadder than I would expect. Nostalgia maybe is the feeling that seems to round out the chords and hang pregnant in the rests. I want to say it is a total miss-match with the vibe of the party, but oddly enough it doesn’t seem to be. Clouds are rolling in and the trees are swaying with increasing gusts, and something sad seemed to be blowing in.
The song seems to be more of a memory than something happening in real-time. It is as if the player is remembering this night years from now, when gray hair cascades down where color once delighted, and loves once the spark of passion, now long lost. Stars crossed, then uncrossed and traveled akimbo across the wide firmament. The moment seemed to be reflected upon rather than lived.
I sipped my beer and listened with my eyes closed. I felt the mix of memory, nostalgia, and melancholy wash over me, feeling the slow dance of time step in rhythm with each note, and life click its metronomic beat. Whoever was playing was vibrating the strings of my soul, and playing in the key of my affections.
A solitary tear escaped my closed eyes, invisible to all in the dim lamp light of my apartment, unremarked if not for the sting of cold on my cheek as it sojourned from duct to floor. I let myself be washed away in the receding time of memory, splashed in each sound wave coming from the floor above. I was the old man dreaming the young man, and the young man dreaming the old.
Time came together as the song crescendoed to a finale. Above the player resolved the final chords in far more of a whimper than an exaltation. Again the sounds of the city rose to my ears, leaving the piano to become the memory it was to begin with. I returned to my present, feet on my windowsill, beer in hand. I blinked open my eyes, then cursed even the dim light that then assaulted them. The night continued without the beauty that moved me so. And again a single tear made the solitary journey from my moist eyes to the desert of the floor.