You’ll never guess what we did last weekend. We bought a piano. I know. We already had one. Still have it, in fact, until we can find a buyer for it. But that piano never belonged here. We bought it from an antiques store, and it seemed great when we found it, but it was during the crash and money was so tight that we had to buy it on layaway. When it was finally delivered to our house, both Mr. Magpie and I were shocked. This wasn’t the piano we had purchased, was it???
I still don’t know for sure what happened. It was similar to the piano we had chosen, but it wasn’t at all like we remembered. It was massive, for one thing, and had a feel on the keyboard that I hated. It sounds fussy, but any pianist can tell you, the “touch” of a piano is crucial, and also deeply personal. This one just wasn’t working for me, and not what I remembered. But by the time the piano came to our home, the antiques store had long since gone out of business. The piano had been in a warehouse waiting for us to pay it off. There wasn’t any way for us to return it or anyone to return it to. So, trying to make the best of it, we tried to make it work. But it just didn’t. Except for the occasional decorating as a faux mantel, it sat.
You know what the worst part is? That piano was our second piano, bought to replace the first piano we had bought at the Habitat ReStore. It was beautiful, so beautiful. Clean lines, natural walnut. Really pretty. I loved it. It needed a little TLC, but it came with free delivery and a free tuning. I figured we were set. But when the piano guy came to tune it, he told us that it was severely damaged inside and that it was a danger to have in the house. He said it had been in a fire, and the strings tightened so much that it was in danger of coming apart, catastrophically. He said that for that piano to be playable we’d need to spend $5,000 to restore it.
I was so upset that once he left I burst into tears. He might as well have said a million dollars. There was no way that I could come up with $5,000. Not to fix a piano, not to buy food, not for anything. And you couldn’t play it at all. Some of the keys didn’t have strings, and it was so out of tune. It was painful. And so it sat. And sat, and sat, and sat. Until finally we had saved up a little bit of money so we could at least find a piano that would play. We went to the antique store in the next town that had great deals and found our second piano.
We couldn’t sell the first piano, so eventually we gave it to a local man who said he’d refurbish it and donate it to a music student or school. At least it was going to a good home, we thought. For us, the best part was that finally we’d have a piano we could love and play and make a part of our family. We put the piano on layaway, scrimped and saved and managed to send payments whenever we could. Over a year later we finally made the last payment and arranged to have it brought home. I still don’t know if that piano was the one we chose or not.
What a disaster. Two pianos, and still nothing. Worst, the new piano was so huge! It consumed all all the space in whatever room it as in. Eventually we saved up to have it tuned, but it didn’t seem worth it when that money could go to pay for other things.
We’d talk about how we wanted a piano we really loved, that would get played, that family and friends could gather around to sing and enjoy music together. Then we’d talk about how we couldn’t afford it. We looked at pianos on Craigslist. We looked in the paper. They were all too expensive, too random, too broken, too much. Eventually, we just gave up. It seemed hopeless.
Until last weekend. A lovely person in my neighborhood had a big sale and decided to sell her piano for an incredibly good price. The perfect piano. Small, well loved, simple. I asked if we could come play it and crossed my fingers. The next day, we went and played the piano and oh, my friends, we fell in love. FINALLY. Finally, after two disappointing disasters, we had a piano that our family would love, love, love.
The only challenge? How to get it home! Buying a piano hadn’t exactly been on our list, so even at the stellar price of $120, we couldn’t afford to spend more to move it. We tried calling around town to various moving companies, just trying to find out the options, looked at renting a truck. Nothing seemed possible.
But then, in a desperate brainstorm we said, “You know? It’s only 9 blocks of straight, smooth road between here and there. We have a special heavy-duty ramp for the front door (that had been for my Dad’s big heavy wheelchair). Why don’t we just use a dolly and wheel it home?”
It was crazy. It had to work.
We tried building a dolly first, but people, that would have cost $90! Then, I had this idea–we have a U-Haul here, they must have dollies. I wonder if they rent them? I called and for $10 you could rent a dolly overnight. Mr. Magpie said we should try the local rental place (I didn’t know such a thing existed), and they showed us this amazing “deluxe” piano dolly for $12.50. With that in hand, and the homeowner’s help putting plywood out across his front lawn, we were off. Very, very slowly, we pushed our new piano home. It was fun. It was an adventure. I’m proud of us. Not for making two huge mistakes on two prior pianos (eep), but for making this happen for ourselves, any way we could. Yes, we’re short $120 for this month’s budget and we’ll have to quickly sell some things on Craigslist to make that up. But we have a piano now that we love. We’ve played it every day. The kids have learned a few things. This is our piano.
Have you had any adventures lately?