Beside each other, the two guitars rested comfortably. One in a soft fabric case, the other in a hard case with a battered top held together by duct tape. Both were miserably out of tune and more than twenty years old. Acquired in childhood, the owners had set aside the instruments long ago. She after one too many comments about her flat tone and he upon moving out of his parents’ house and working three jobs to pay the rent.
She remembers the brand new acoustic and the lessons she enthusiastically asked for at 10 or 11, and feeling nervous at a recital a few years later. So nervous that she made mistakes, although no one noticed but her and the teacher. After that, practice became an ugly chore instead of a magical interlude. She tried learning popular songs but her accompanying voice sounded dull. Her mother suggested classes. Instead, she joined a church choir where her tone blended into the whole. Eventually though, the religious selections became unbearable. She put away her guitar, but hoped for a rekindling at a different point in life. It followed her from rental to rental. She hung onto it, still thinking one day she’d pick it up again.
He got his guitar in high school. From a pawn shop, paid for with his own money. In the basement at home, he meticulously wrote down chords and riffs for songs he heard on the radio and practiced for hours. But it was the purchase of mini-speakers that changed the game by enabling his music to drown out his parent’s screaming matches. Downstairs, he played like nothing else mattered. Suddenly, his parents’ angry words started to focus on him. He began staying over at friends’ places. At first that worked. But he had no space or privacy. And little cash. So he quit school and moved into a share house. Some years later, he retrieved his guitar along with other possessions. From time to time, he took it out to tune, but had lost interest in playing. Yet, he didn’t want to sell or donate it either.
When they moved in together, they laughed at the copious amount of guitars for their small household. But stacked them artfully in the spare room. Waiting for that moment they were both still convinced would come. A fine pair, these two guitars.