I don’t usually make New Year’s Resolutions. So this year I decided to make just one, and a practical one: play the piano every Saturday I’m in Denver, on one of the lovely practice pianos located in DU’s renowned music school. Totally doable, and I figured it would be a great stress-reliever to boot. Such a win-win for me!!
The first Saturday rolled around and I was ready. I had asked a good friend of mine where the practice rooms were located. (5th floor to the right.) I had packed my binder of music, so kindly assembled at home by my sister Kayla. (Beethoven. Coldplay. Phantom. Disney.) I even decided to dress up in my classy cold weather clothes to fit the classy atmosphere I would be entering. It was showtime.
Walking into the Newman Performing Arts Center/Lamont School of Music, I was blown away as usual by the grand foyer with its marble floors, high ceilings, and wide carpeted staircase leading to the main concert hall. There were also several groups of students and/or professors sitting at elegant wooden tables, having conversations that echoed in the space. After swallowing a few times, I made my way to the nearest elevator, to the right of the foyer, and walked in. I looked for the fifth floor button, but alas, it was not there – only one for the fourth. I stepped back out, confused. Walking farther back into the building, I found another elevator and entered, but again encountered only the fourth floor button. Perhaps there were more elevators located on the other side…
I calmly walked back into the foyer, where several of the students glanced at me and then resumed their conversation. I casually entered the hallway to the left of the foyer, where I soon encountered another elevator. Again, no fifth floor. I decided to ride up to the fourth anyway. Once there, I looked for stairways, signs, a secret passageway, anything that could help me in my search. Nothing. I walked down some stairs to the third floor, then noticed a door marked “Stairwell N.” It was something.
I opened the heavy door and entered the empty concrete stairwell. After I walked back up to the fourth floor, the stairs ended and I realized I had hit another dead end. Starting to feel frustrated, I turned to open the stairwell door and reenter the building. The handle didn’t budge. My heart stopped. I turned around and walked quickly to the next possible door and grabbed its handle. Immovable. My heart started up again but began beating at an impossibly fast rate. I raced down the stairs and tried the doors at the third floor. Locked. As I continued running down the stairs, all I could think was “Can I even get cell phone service in this vault??!!!”
After trying six doors, I finally escaped into the outdoors via one of the fire exits on the ground level. It took a few minutes of gasping the brisk air for me to regain the courage to continue my quest.
I re-entered the building and crossed through the foyer yet again, pretending to admire the architecture. I could feel the stares of those still conversing together boring a hole in my back. I walked up the grand staircase to the left and around the entire balcony overlooking the foyer. Nothing. I walked down the stairs and up again to the right. Nothing. I stepped back down the stairs and graced the table-sitters with my presence yet again to enter the hallway to the left, where I found the largest elevator I’ve ever seen and thought “Surely this is the one.” Grinning with my success, I walked in..and walked back out frowning. No fifth floor.
I trudged back into the foyer and plopped down at a table by myself, where I proceeded to text my friend a cry for help and then play movie trivia games on my phone. When she replied, she told me it was the elevator right at the entrance of the building. Confused, I walked back to where I had started my journey and discovered a long hallway, walls covered with bulletin boards and flyers for the music school. Sure enough, there was a lonely little elevator. And it went to the fifth floor, where I found a practice room with a view and a lovely Boston upright piano, and where I played Clair de Lune and Coldplay and Pocahontas to my heart’s content.
(Originally posted 1/13/12)