While My Guitar Gently Weeps

It transitioned from my guitar to the guitar within a matter of months. Six years ago, I zipped it up into its cheap soft case and it hasn’t been removed since. The only reason I know that there is still a guitar there is that when I accidently knock it, when moving stuff in the spare room, a slightly smothered but still surprisingly loud sound vibrates out of it.

My brief spell with music began late, when I was 16. With hormones racing in typical teenage fashion, I instantly fell for my guitar teacher. I could feel his eyes on me as my nervous sweaty fingers slipped childishly along the strings. I practiced everyday for an hour, sometimes more. But often I would lie and say I had done very little practice, thinking that acting indifferent to my guitar playing was less embarrassing than admitting that I had tried and failed. He assured me that my fingers would build up a resistance to the steel strings, but I watched as calluses formed on my finger tips and subsequently fell off leaving even softer new skin.

I’d watch in envy as friend’s fingers would dance along the fret board effortlessly and I’d recall my frustration the perpetual ticking of the metronome as I tried to grasp basic scales and rhymes. They could strum effortlessly, lost in music and play without thinking. I, on the other hand, agonized over every chord, awkwardly stretching and twisted my fingers to make what felt like impossible chord configurations.

The zipped guitar bag is a closed casket containing my often angst-ridden, embarrassing adolescence. It represents old crushes and old musician boyfriends. It represents what I perceived as failure on my part to never become the cool, strong Joan Baez-type character that I thought I could only become by mastering guitar playing. The poor fashion decisions, terrible “nu metal” music all build up a picture of who I was during my teens. I’ve thrown out or lost numerous photographs of this era, but the guitar is still in my house, too big to simply lose or throw away.

We surround ourselves with the things and memories we love; souvenirs, family photographs, old ticket stubs and books. But it’s interesting also to examine what we have locked away as they give us to get a fuller picture. Everyone tries to construct a version of his or her former selves through selecting, editing and often falsely writing history. Though perhaps in the future, we will no longer be able to hide away pictures of embarrassing haircuts as everything will be tagged and archived in the online representations of ourselves. Maybe you won’t be able to move to another city, escape your embarrassing and your little online avatar will follow you wherever you go, whether you want it to or not.

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