I was in third grade. It was an upright purple piano. Actually, the piano came into my life with a turquoise tint and an “antiquing” bronzing that some creative person thought would make it look, well, like an antique.
My parents sent me off one Saturday morning on my bike to my cousin’s house. It was May and my birthday was right around the corner. While we were peddling around town, my parents convinced a friend to drive my father to pick up my birthday present, the piano. An uncle and another friend gladly helped knowing that a case of Coors would be waiting at the end of the ride.
My surprise was almost spoiled when my cousin, who was always getting me into trouble, convinced me to ride my bike farther away from her house than allowed. It was there a pick up truck hauling a turquoise piano and three men sped by us. But we didn’t notice them and I was happily surprised later that night. The piano was soon painted purple, still my favorite color, and three years of miserable piano lessons followed.
But this is not my story of creativity, even though my parents’ wished for a talented daughter to serenade them into their old age. The story of my creativity lies a bit in the purple paint, but mostly in the words I used to describe it to my third grade teacher.
I always loved to create. I made May altars by decorating my statue of Mary with plastic flowers and crepe paper and candles. It’s amazing that I didn’t burn down the house. I make jewelry, plant gardens, and design and build costumes. I didn’t realize that I was a writer until recently. This realization came to me at the age of 55 when I remembered my purple piano.
It was the nun in third grade who squashed my creativity in writing. I was excited about the purple piano. I remember writing a story the very week after its arrival about a little man who lived in the piano. Finally, I had something to write about.
Sister Mary Whatever called me to the front of the room and in a whispered voice made sure that I understood there was no little man living in my purple piano. She wanted to assure me that this couldn’t happen. I assured her that I knew he wasn’t real. I assured her that it was just a story. She told me never to write about him again. I didn’t. And I didn’t write much at all after that. I only produced what teachers demanded of me using outlines and following formulas.
Thank goodness that I am an elementary school teacher who became disgruntled with the ways we are “supposed” to teach children how to write. I searched for a better way to teach and found it. I am grateful to the Colorado Writing Project and Karen Crawford who not just opened the doors, but the floodgates.
As I look back I realize that Sister Mary Whatever was probably concerned about me because of my mother’s mental illness. At the time I wasn’t aware that others knew about her. I now, of course, realize everyone knew and Sister Mary Whatever was just trying to protect me.
It is inspiration from Tweetspeak Poetry, Every Day Poems, L.L. Barkat, Lyla Lindquist, and crew that feeds my writer’s soul. It is also through books like Julia Cameron’s The Artist’s Way and those who share their thoughts and lives in the book club that encourage me to revel in God’s inspiration and just be who I am.
And I am a writer.