I Watched As You Grew and I Cried
I watch you: I watch as you bring different women to our home. That's the only time you hold me anymore. You took me out for the first time in years a few months ago, and I thought you might want me the way you used to—but no.
These days, you sit down on the bed where we used to practice. The girls giggle and yearn at the sight of your shaggy brown hair and your fingertips tickling my strings, wondering what else they can do. The melodies you spit out must only sound nice because you're gorgeous. They'll say you play like Clapton or Reinhardt.
I remember the day you picked me out from the store, your mother telling you,
"Reach for the one in the back with the broken High E String, its on sale for less. Your father will fix it when he's home from his tour."
All you wanted was to be just like him, a musician. Your eyes lit up when you saw me sitting there, unchosen. I was meant for you. I relished your gentle touch as you lifted me carefully off the shelf, testing my strings with a tender pluck. I felt, deeply, you‘d love me well. I was much bigger than you then, you could barely lift me.
In our early days together, I lived for the brush of your boyish, learning fingertips over my frets, coaxing out simple and delicate melodies until your parents told you to go to sleep. I vibrated with joy at each new chord you mastered, glowing with pride at your dedication. You lavished me with polish and fresh strings, taking meticulous care of me like your father taught you. I was the music in your soul manifest. We were inseparable then. My mahogany glowed under harsh, yellow bedroom lamps as we performed our favorite songs— hours of practice paying off, mom's tears and dad's applause.
But, years later, you're 15. You formed a band. Gone were the gentle ballads we once played together. You cranked up the amps, thrashing power chords with abandon. I strained my voice to be heard above crashing cymbals, my notes drowned out by screaming vocals. The tender boy I knew was replaced by a brash, ambitious teenager desperate to rock. You all screamed along as if fighting each other to be the best. It hurt me. You were always the best in my eyes.
In time, you learned control. It took around two years, but you found bandmates who complemented instead of competed. The college bars welcomed our renditions of well-loved classics. I basked in this return to form, desperately willing it to last. The audience would clap and sing along to the notes we always practiced growing up. Eventually, it was you and I against the world once again.
I knew you weren't old enough to drink for those few years that followed, but it seemed to make you love me more— so I never told anyone. At this point, you'd have your shitty beers and strapping whiskeys, and sit alone atop a barstool on stage. You held me gently, bobbing your head and tapping your boots while our voices, intertwined, greeted with keen sways by our small fanbase of barflies and weekend revelers. Our duo played songs that we learned together when you were young; those you were too embarrassed to showcase, in fear of your peers' scorn.
Then you got busy. Life intervened, and our music became an afterthought. I languished between occasional gigs that were more about the money and women than the art of our harmonious lovemaking. New priorities, new friends. My strings grew dull, untouched for months on end. I longed for the hands that once gripped tightly onto me. You drank too much to love me now, and left me sitting in a corner of your room. You used me as what I wasn't made for. You'd come home late and toss dirty towels and sweat-drenched clothes at me. I fell over once, but you were too fucked up to notice.
I lay prostrate for years to follow. You left school. You got a job. You shoved me in your closet when you moved apartments— I'm not sure how long I've been here. Now when I emerge, it’s for show, not love. You use me to impress women who couldn’t care less about our history, that don't hear the songs we used to play together. Their sharp nails scrape roughly over my frets, marring my surface and leaving chipped nailpolish between my strings, while you teach them "how to play me." They hold me like an object, laughing at their clumsy attempts to mimic you. My scuffs and worn finish are ignored.
Inevitably, you don't love me anymore. I go back in the closet between your dates. My body grew old and my strings loose— some have snapped and curled by now. Your father would be disappointed.
Those women pretend we sing in dulcet tones because they love you as much as I did, and they wouldn't want to offend you. But I'm just a guitar, I don't have feelings.