When I was in grammar school I played the flute.
I also played for a semester my freshman year in high school, but that was just a last ditched effort to pad my college application. Didn’t count.
Third grade flute playing is what really stands out. I rented my flute. It was in a hard black case and beyond the two sliver flip clips, that kept it closed, was blue velvet. Worn blue velvet that must have held so many stories about other little girls, other school bands.
My flute was in three pieces and I remember having to make sure they were put into their little spots just so, or the case wouldn’t close.
I thought about playing the clarinet, but the whole reed business seemed too difficult. Besides the flute was shiny and it had to be held to the side. I liked that because it made me feel delicate, almost like a fairy, I remember thinking.
I’m Irish and German, there are not a lot of opportunities to feel delicate with that solid heritage coursing though my veins.
The flute was beautiful, it came with a cloth for polishing and I always loved the little foot that hung off the end. I don’t remember what note it was, but I remember having to reach my pinkie now and again to depress that little sliver foot.
The mouthpiece of my flute was an oval with a silver border for my lips. I had to pucker, sort of, it wasn’t exactly a pucker. It was very specific flute, pout, kissy face, lips. I remember my band teacher used to tell us to exercise our lips. My third grade self loved that because it was an excuse to make faces in the mirror and flutter my lips like a horse.
The mouth piece of my flute was cold and metallic. I remember loving that first touch when my lips met the instrument, before I even puffed out a breath. That sensation particularly stands out on the mornings it was cold in the band room at Public School #8.
I’m not sure if I was ever any good at playing the flute. I don’t remember anyone telling me one way or the other. Which is fantastic because my memory isn’t burdened by performance or expectation. It rests in the simple act of being, playing.
I loved the sound my flute made, it was sort of a wistful huff, although my third grade mind would not have processed it that way. She thought it sounded a lot like that cool tone a glass Coke bottle makes when you gently place your lips on the edge and blow.
I didn’t play the flute for long, I’m not sure why I stopped. Something else must have come along, been more important, although right now I can’t figure out what that could have been.
My thoughts from the laundry room. Deep Breath.