Sibel Iskender

Issue No. 19 • Spring 2018

An explosion of notes onto the piano disperses into a triumphant chord and echoes through my empty living room. It’s about the 30th time I’ve played Debussy’s prelude from Suite Bergamesque, but I have an audition tomorrow, and every breath must be flawless. I decide I can no longer be distracted by the array of chicken scratch on the dismantled pages of my sheet music. Every trill, break, arpeggio must be repeated over and over again so that I know exactly what to expect. I don’t want any surprises when I’m faced with a panel of judges who determine the fate of what I think, or at least hope at the time, will be my musical career. I stop for a moment and sit at the edge of my stool in realization that I have it all wrong. I don’t really know why in particular I’m taking this so seriously, but I recognize that what I thought was my dream has merely become a fleeting reality.

If my dad had heard me say these things out loud, I know he would be disappointed. Maybe not necessarily in me, but maybe in himself in the way he chose to steer the course of his own life. If it weren’t for me, he probably never would have chosen to come to the United States. Now that I’ve been given all the means necessary to decide what I wanted to do with everything he’s given me, I spoil myself with the idea of allowing myself to throw away twelve of my nineteen years devoted to music.

Before I realize where I am, the piece is over, I’ve slammed my hands down on the final collection of keys, and I’m left alone with the silence of another passing moment.

In a matter of months, I will be away at college, preparing for life outside of the confines of my small-town-immigrant-daughter syndrome. If this wasn’t most definitely contributing to what I thought would be the rest of my life, my career, I’m not too certain why I bother. But I forget that it’s okay not to know things. It is okay to be unsure. I’m conditioned that sureness is security, and unsureness is vulnerability. But I am learning it is okay to try, and to fail, because the beauty in it all is the willingness to figure it out.