It was circa 2001. I had just crossed the threshold of semester one and had a couple of weeks to consider what my new classes might be. My major was set to be Business, but as I looked at the list of things I could learn, my heart was drawn to the piano classes. These were electives, so they just filled hours and didn’t advance me toward anything, but I was set on it.
Every moment I could have after that day, I spent in the piano room. From there, I just played the piano, but for me. For many years, my academics were for everyone else. For my family, because I was the oldest. For my neighborhood, because we live in a system where every black mom where I live cheers for every black kid who graduates like it was their own.
Hours turned into weeks and those into months. I took one piano elective every semester for the next two when I was asked to play at church. I played on a KORG Triton and I went from praying with the people on the floor to praying with the people on the stage through my playing. I was asked to play with my college’s gospel group after that. I played with a rock band after that.
I honestly had not expected this. I didn’t plan for this. I wasn’t prepared for this. However, I got called to it anyway, so I showed up and it was magic. I didn’t know that I had the ability to communicate and reach people in that way. I also learned the name of a superpower I’d had for a long time: synesthesia. Music was something that I could process in the same way I process sight. It had color and form and I learned with practice, that I could take music and share pictures and stories with others.
It was a long education in learning to be prepared without knowing when I’d be called upon and it continues to serve me well.
This post brought to you by a writing prompt series by Tara-Nicholle Nelson.