The one where if June had been a decent person she wouldn’t have to do all this.

Have I told you guys about my quest? I’ve told my mother, I know that, and now she’s reading that this is today’s topic and slamming her laptop shut in disgust. “Get some original material, you damp ham.”

In 1992, when I was 26 for half of it and 27 for the other half, and that’s the problem with a July birthday. Oh, sure, I was always on summer vacation and the weather was always good on my day, but I can’t say, “In 1978, I was 13.” I have to say, “Well, I was 12 for seven and a half months of it and 13 for four and a half months.” I guess everyone has this problem, with the exception of my pal The Poet, who would say, “In blah blah year I was 30, except for the very last day of it, when I was 31.”

She was born on New Year’s Eve, see. Which has to kind of suck since everyone is celebrating … not you.

Still. Your birthday is associated with champagne and streamers if your bday is 12/31. Which is funny since she’s so mild-mannered. She’s not a streamers, shout at midnight kinda gal.

And my birthday is in the dead of summer, associated with lying about with lemonade and watching a dragonfly, which is so not my personality. Well. The lying about part is.

How is it that I get off on these tangents? Oh, right. ADD. Minus the H. Sans H.

So I have a quest. It all began in 1992, when I was 26 and then I was 27. Did you know that part? Perhaps I need to cover that more thoroughly. I was working in my hometown at my first real job in which I had to wear dresses and jackets and so on. And somehow at work I read about how our local symphony was providing grants or scholarships, I forget which, to teach adults piano. And I mean, “adult.” I fit the bill, sort of.

I also remember that my coworkers wanted to start an on-site Weight Watchers meeting and I wanted to join just because everyone else was doing it, but at 127 pounds I either didn’t qualify at all or I just barely did. In either event, I wish to go back in time and punch myself right in the ass.

If I even had one to punch, that is.

So, I applied. For the grant or the scholarship, whatever it was, and I got in. I got to take free piano lessons. And lest you think I was somehow gaming the system, I worked full time, usually more than 40 hours a week because we had events all the time that I had to go to, and I made (are you ready?)

$17,000 a year.

When I think of how that place mistreated me, and never appreciated anything I did. I was managed by two damp hams, I can tell you that. They did not encourage my strengths. We’re doing StrengthsFinder at my current job, where they treat me better.

My point is this. I took the free piano lessons for I think six months or so. I went every week to this woman’s home, and she could always tell if I’d actually practiced or not. And when I did well, she’d say, “VERY GOOD, June!!”

I’m very rewards-based. All I need is a “very good” or a “You’ve advanced to the next level” and I am all set for months. You’d think that wouldn’t be so, what with my people-displeasing personality, but there it is.

I liked her, that teacher. And I went pretty faithfully, practicing on my mother’s keyboard. One song I had to learn went: All day, all night, Marianne. Something something something sifting sand.

…Oh, it’s a real song! As opposed to Bone Sweet Bone, which I learned when I took piano when I was 10. Well. For seven and a half months I was 9. Then I was 10.

The point of me telling you about all day, all night, Marianne was that right after this, I moved to Seattle and met my friend Marianne 47 seconds later. I always thought it was prescient that I learned that song.

But Seattle is why I’m on a quest. Because at the end of 1992, I decided to move to Seattle, sort of on a whim because those bosses at my first real job pissed me off. And at the end, there, as I was wrapping things up and packing and all, I didn’t go to my very last piano lesson. I just didn’t show up. I remember being in my room and making the decision that I just wasn’t gonna go.

And I’ve felt bad about it ever since.

I mean, that teacher was so nice, and I just feel like she probably bought me a goodbye card or something. She was that type. And I just fekking didn’t show. Even if she hadn’t gotten me a card, I still should’ve thanked her for teaching me all day, all night, Marianne.

But of course, that was ages ago and I can’t recall her name. And for years it was just a thing I figured I’d have to feel bad about.

But for some reason, the other day I put on Facebook part of my saga. I asked people from my hometown if they could guess who my teacher would’ve been. And do you know within minutes people had some guesses? I had two names. One person I found on Facebook and I wrote her.

“Yes. I took piano lessons in 1992…” I began.

The teacher wrote me back saying she wasn’t my teacher, and that I’d probably feel better if I just let this go. Well, maybe. But if I can FIND the person and apologize, wouldn’t that be even better?

The other person I spoke to on the phone. She was just a delight, and totally understood. “Oh, those things eat at you,” she said. She wasn’t my teacher, either, but she suggested I call the symphony and see if they can figure out who the teacher would have been. So that’s my next step. Probably I’ll find her and she’ll be all, “WHO are you?” I mean, I know that’s probably the case. But I feel bad anyway and want to apologize.

So that’s my quest. That’s my Nancy Drew moment for the week. Now, where the hell is Hannah Gruen with my luncheon?

35 thoughts on “The one where if June had been a decent person she wouldn’t have to do all this.

  1. I think about these things, too, from time to time. People I may have hurt or that I wish I had another chance to tell how important they were to me. My grandpa, who I adored, died when I was a snotty middle schooler and thought I was too cool to go visit old people. I wonder if he understood that the snub wasn’t real – just me being dumb.

    I’ve tried reconnecting with my grade school best friend on Facebook – nothing. I just wanted to see if either of us could remember what happened in 6th grade that fractured our friendship forever. We became friends the very first day of 1st grade. I moved in 8th grade so we never really talked again. Then I went back home to a cousin’s wedding when I was 18 and there she was – she was waiting tables at the wedding! We hugged and said hello and did the “we should get together!” dance… and never did. Maybe I’ll send her a card. We can become old lady pen pals.

    Thanks June for stirring the melancholy – it’s a spot I don’t mind examining from time to time.

    The only thing that surprises me is that you can’t remember her name – is your excellent recall only related to dates?

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  2. I love a good quest; hope yours is successful! As a kid I liked my July birthday because my age was the same for the entire school year. I appreciated the simplicity of that.

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  3. Excellent quest! I hope you find your piano teacher. Do you think you can still plunk out your song? My mom took piano for many years and later could only remember one song, “Silver Bells”. My sister and I would BEG her to play it at Christmas time.

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  4. I really hope you can find her! I contacted a Dominican nun that taught me in 4th and 5th grades. I even went to visit her in Albuquerque when I was 13. Alas, we did connect – in 2011. She was about 84 then I think. No, she didn’t exactly remember me but did ask me if I visited her in NM… and then I didn’t continue the emailing. Darn. I am afraid to even try now – she would be 94 maybe… sigh.
    Just saying, do not give up.
    Nice post!

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  5. I also love this quest!

    I hope you found someone to do your annual April Fool to today–AND I hope they fell for it!

    Lovely post, lovely June!

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  6. I thinks it’s great you want to find her, and if you do, I’m sure she’ll enjoy speaking with you. Why can’t we all have Hannah’s in our homes?

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  7. I love that you are pursuing this and getting it off your conscience. We all have things that we need to unburden ourselves and it is difficult.

    I remembered that Marianne song right away, but when I saw the YouTube thing I figured I was wrong about that song and assumed it would be “Hey Marianne, what’s your game? Now can anybody play”. remember that one?

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  8. I’ve always felt kind of silly, but I’m on the look out for a kind couple that helped me after my motorcycle accident. I’d really like to say thank you again, because they were so nice to stop and help. And also, I didn’t lose consciousness or anything, but I don’t exactly remember the accident. I have a good understanding of what must have happened, can remember immediately before and after the accident, but no actual memory of the accident itself, and I’d really like to ask them what they saw. It would change nothing in the grand scheme of things, but it would just put my mind at rest.

    And then there’s the old Italian piano teacher who I sort of argued with during a lesson. He asked me if I wanted to quit, and I said yes. I wasn’t sure he took me seriously, or even sure if I wanted him to take me seriously. Who takes a 17 year old seriously anyway?? But he never came back! I’d like to apologize to him.

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  9. Regrets (I‘ve had a few) can sometimes haunt us in ways we never anticipated. And sometimes we’re surprised.

    During this time we’re in I have had stray thoughts about people and events from my past. The best one was finding my dance teacher still teaching, but now in Hawaii. Sweet.

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  10. What I thought your quest was going to be was to start plying piano again. I guess that’s not really a quest but more of an ambition though.
    Good luck with your quest!

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  11. Last night my family was having a very interesting discussion about the differences between shame, embarrassment and feeling bad about some event that happened in our past. We shared a lot of stories. And it’s amazing the things that stick with you even 50+ years after they happen. If you find her, it will be interesting to see if she remembers. In my experience, when I bring up incidents like this with people, they have absolutely no memory of what I have been reliving in my head for years. What is burned so clearly in my memory, was quickly forgotten in theirs.

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    1. This has been my experience, too. I’ve fretted over being a knucklehead, and the other person has NO memory of it. The same goes for me! I have very few memories of people being knuckleheads to me, but they may have some frets of their own for really no reason!
      Let’s all forgive ourselves for youthful indiscretion!

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  12. I hope you find your piano teacher and solve that mystery.

    You know what birthday really sucks? April 1st. Yup. No celebration for me, just an endless stream of terrible “jokes” and laughter that still echos in my head all these years after grade school. Sigh.

    BUT I did get my new glasses from my eye purveyor last week, so there’s that…

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  13. Good luck on your quest!
    “So I have a quest. It all began in 1992, when I was 26 and then I was 27. Did you know that part? Perhaps I need to cover that more thoroughly.” Cracked me up!!

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  14. My birthday is Dec 30th. No one celebrates. Too busy gearing up for the 31st. I ALWAYS wanted a summer birthday. Now I realize how lucky I am because I know how old I was in every part of the year, even though it was not really celebrated.

    Hate that regret stuff that eats away at you. Hope you find her.

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  15. I can hear you starting this call. “Yes, in 1992 when I was 26 and 27, I took piano lessons…”

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  16. I can SO identify. Not with piano lessons because I can’t carry a tune in a bag and have no musical talent WHATSOEVER, but with the regret and the hanging on and the what I should have done and how can I fix it. It keeps me up nights. Thanks for poking that beast so I can remember and fret about even more stuff.

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  17. Another great post! You are on a roll.
    “Yes…” made me laugh out loud. So much funny today. I guess I’m fortunate, I was 16 for 11 months and 1 day of that year. So, I was 17 only 29 days year I was 16.

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  18. Oh, June, I’m proud of you. This is a good quest to be on. Coincidentally, I’ve been thinking of something similar. Last year, I was hospitalized and was in and out of conscientiousness in the emergency room. I remember coming to and shoving away a doctor’s hand who was trying to get a CPAC on me. I was YELLING at her to stop and saying she was making me worse. This went on a few times, and I’ve felt dreadful about it ever since. Can you imagine someone trying to save your life and yelling at them to stop and leave you alone? I have attempted to find out the doctor’s name so I can apologize to her, to no avail. Anyway, that is/was my quest. Obviously, I didn’t try as hard as I should have and tell myself the docs and nurses are used to people not being themselves under those circumstances.

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  19. I was an insensitive 13 yr old to my favorite Grandmother. She told me she was so happy we had come to visit her for the weekend and I told her I was going to make my Mom leave that day so i could go to a stupid sleepover party. Thinking back on it, the look on her face was so sad, but she only said “Oh, that will be nice for you Dear”
    I could still cry thinking about that!

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    1. This makes me so sad for you…I’ll cry with you. Try to let it go…trust me, grandmas understand insensitive 13 yr old girls! I’m sure you made up for it.

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    1. If I had salad and consomme for lunch, by about 1:30 I’d be hangrily chopping Hannah Gruen into tiny slices and running her through the meat grinder.

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