I used to live in this apartment with these huge floor-to-ceiling windows, so I could see everyone on the street, and the building across the street, and best of all I had a perfect view of the horizon. At night I used to pull up a chair right up to the cold pane so my knees just brushed the glass. I’d pull out the book Frankenstein and turn off all the lights, so that I could read my book to the light of the sunset. I used to think of it as a ritual, a lullaby for me, and for the sun. I always enjoyed the experience of reading during the sunset, and that I had these moments to myself and nobody could take them from me.
One evening I remember I was re-reading the part where Victor is told about his brother, when I looked up for a second to see the man across the street in the other apartment. I hadn’t paid much attention to him before, but this time he caught my eye. He was playing at this great black grand piano, and there wasn’t anyone around him. He just sat playing by himself, and the way he was playing was almost hypnotizing. The moment immediately melted around me as this man played the piano; I think it was the most beautiful thing I had ever witnessed.
As he played he tilted left to right, like a cobra under the gaze of a snake charmer. Watching him I thought of the time I had seen the statue David in person; contained in his performance was the same balance and grace. Before seeing this man I hadn’t understood the saying “his hands glided over the keys,” but watching his hands run over the piano was like watching olive oil over a hot pan. I couldn’t really see his face, it was tilted down, but his eyes were closed, and I like to imagine he was smiling a kind of Mona Lisa smile.
The best part about watching him was that the perfection lasted. It wasn’t the passing whiff of a moment, I felt as though I was taking a long sip of a drink I had thirsted for since a child. I fell in love with the music I couldn’t hear just watching him, and I felt a pull from my own fingers to strum or press, my lungs to blow or sing. In that moment more than anything I wanted his balance, his total acceptance of himself and the music. It was perfect and he was perfect and I wanted to be a part of that.
The moment eventually passed. First the sun assaulted my eyes, so bright I could barely make him out, and then I couldn’t see him at all. The moment left me with a feeling of fullness that I’ve only felt after Thanksgiving at home; I was like a dog who just wanted to lie in the sun until the end of time. I never went to the man’s apartment, even though I wanted to, so that I could hear his music. But I kept watching for him, and every time I looked he'd be there playing, even at times where by all rights he should've been out to a meal or at work. He was always there playing, and I’m certain even now if I looked, he'd be there.