The Smell of an Instrument

I began Creo Somnium in March of 2013, but it was on May 16th of 2013 that I really began blogging in earnest.  To commemorate this first blogaversary, I would like to revisit that first post, which I actually thought I lost. It’s a memory I don’t revisit often, but I like.

I came home from the flea market and threw my keys on the table.  After setting up a pot of coffee, I rifled through the “grab bag” of albums I purchased from one of the record tables. I played the albums one by one, selecting some to give away, and others to keep. I placed an unlabeled record on the player, and sat immobile through the piece. It was the instrumental theme song for the 1967 Casino Royale.

I don’t have many good memories of my father, so I treasure this one I have of him playing the trumpet. This piece in particular, I remember hearing often.

He was in the basement in front of his wire music stand where the sheet music lay. I would sit on the top of the stairs, leaning in the doorway twirling the long fibers of the shag carpet. Or I would sit in the kitchen playing jacks or reading in the living room on our scratchy brown couch.

When he finished playing and came back upstairs, I went downstairs, to the corner where his trumpet case lay closed.  I opened the case, picked it up, and pretended to play, standing like I’d seen him do.  It was still warm from his hands and breath. It had the most distinctive smell – the smell of metal and breath and valve oil.

Even at that age, my imagination was caught, that over so many years, so many people had smelled the same smell as I could, in such places as New York clubs during the Prohibition or Christmas in Dickensian London. It smelled of an entire far away world, with unique language, customs, and social mores. It was a connection to a man who was just as distant.


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