The Salvage Store was downtown, in an area unfamiliar to me. Michael, our neighbor introduced me to the place. He had finished transforming a useless basement room in our home into a marvelous music studio, the walls lined with shelves, resembling the library of my dreams. The timing of the renovation was fantastic; the studio was completed while Ilkka and I were away with the symphony on tour. We'd end up needing that extra space, only, we didn't know it at the time. We had no idea our lives would depend on renovation and reinvention, and that teaching would be our salvation, each student a blessing.
The store, crowded from floor to ceiling with rare treasures, fascinated me. An antique, oak banking desk held amazing potential as a dining table. The drawers for deposit/withdrawal slips might have stashed knives, forks and linens. I desperately wanted the collectible desk but couldn't afford it. My spirits sank.
"Hey, what about this?" Michael asked, inching his way through stacks of knick-knacks and furnishings to an imposing, red velvet covered pew.
"You've got to be kidding."
"It'd be perfect for the studio," he said.
We stared at one another. I could no longer be an impulsive shopper. Gone were the days of reckless spending and the sneaking of merchandise into the house. During the mid 80's when we lived in Los Angeles, I had a soft spot for Boston Terriers and adopted three of them from Beverly Center. I bought them while Ilkka was guest concertmaster of Seattle Symphony. By the time he found out about the dogs, it was too late; they were my children. It'd be tough to sneak an eleven foot pew into the house. I sank deeper into my thoughts. Would we even have students after the media's slanted reporting?
Michael rattled away. He discovered donation envelopes still hidden in the bench: First Christian Church on Broadway
And his finger traced a beautiful etching of a cross on the side.
"I'm Jewish," I said.
"I'll carve a star of David for you right next to it," he persisted. "You'll need this—for students and their parents. Students will sit and listen to one another, like a class. It'll be a fresh beginning, a new life for you and Ilkka."
I thought about it.
"I don't know, maybe—ok." I caved in. "I'll buy the pew. Who knows? After being vilified by the press and having our reputations smeared, if students still come to us, I might turn into a Believer, yet."