‘Unrealised’ score and composition by Sanna Wei
When I was fifteen, I wanted to get my heart broken.
I was the drifter, the one with no best friend for others to envy. The one oblivious to any attempts to create such a bond with me, if they even existed. After all, the reality was so clear – everyone else was too consumed with each other’s affections to think of mine. This aloneness, if not desired, was at least familiar, comfortable for me. And it was okay because I cultivated joy in other things – the detail of ever-changing clouds, the lustre of pavement, scattered leaves and overgrown grass during the golden hour in which I walked home after school. And most of all, the quiet, faithful devotion I had to the piano.
Music was my love. Every afternoon I came home to the instrument, always practicing for two hours before anything else. In that routine I found freedom.
Music was not something you expected immediate reward from. Often you practiced for days or weeks before you noticed any progress. But, if you practiced regularly, you knew that one day you’d discover you could play beautiful music.
And that sensation of interacting with the music, dancing with it, loving it, giving life to it and being given life to in return – of every cell in your body vibrating in harmony and everything you ever felt or wanted to say come pouring out with easy, perfect expression – that was the moment I patiently waited for.
So, every day, finding peace in expecting nothing in return, I devoted myself to music.
One day, the careful division between my social and musical worlds came crashing down in a single comment from my piano teacher – “You’re just not getting this line right. Come on, can’t you play it like your heart is breaking?”
I had never had my heart broken. I had never had a crush on any of the boys at school. And now, somehow, I realised this was not a vague curiosity but a serious problem.
Instinctively, I thought of asking Velia for help. Velia, who was kind and accepting of everyone. Who, because she was also witty and playful, was loved by everyone. Velia, for whom I baked twice as many cookies on her birthday than for anyone else. Velia, who I was always finding ways to talk to, or coming up with things to ask.
Instead of going to her, I went home and talked to my piano. I sat down and let my fingers instinctively reach for notes that would give me release. I played as I thought of Velia, as I thought of yearning, as I thought of my problematic absence of crushes. I allowed myself, just for that moment between the piano and I, to imagine a life with Velia. Images of us holding hands, spinning in circles, smiling, danced across my mind. Without thinking too much or too hard about it, I weaved a dream I knew could never be. Then a sad but calm sort of acceptance drew me and my music to a close, ending the fantasy I barely dared to acknowledge in its fading sounds.
When it was over I didn’t think about it again. Thoughts came with words, and words had consequences. But I remembered the way I felt, and ever since then I conjured up those feelings whenever I had to play like my “heart was breaking”.
Technically, those feelings weren’t my heart breaking, because I never let myself create something real enough to be broken. But music, unlike words, is forgiving. All it needed was complexity and honesty.