I have always loved Italy. Not just the concept, but seriously, I knew and loved that country. My parents took me to Rome when I was still just a baby. The result was a blurry, ethereal memory. Then we visited Venice when I was a couple of years older. Still, the memories were hazy but so very magical. Italy felt like a distant relative that was very good to me when I was a kid and was always waiting for me. So, it was only logical that as soon as I finished college, I got on a plane straight to Rome.
I stayed in that classic city for a full month. When I left I carried with me the temptation to come back very, very soon. However, there was so much more left to see. I couldn’t help but get on a train destined to Venice, to relieve my childhood, now that I was sure to remember every single detail. My surprise came when I entered the train to find out there was a large crowd of guitarists heading to a concert or competition in Venice.
For a second I thought I was dreaming. It must have been an illusion. It was just a really odd sight to catch sight of a room filled with more guitars than people. Everybody there was carrying at least one guitar. Some of them were already strumming away, humming along, singing quietly, chatting with their fellow musicians. It was impressive, slightly dazzling and a little worrying. I guessed I wouldn’t be having a peaceful sleep on that train ride.
Regardless, I took my seat and politely greeted the people around me. All of them seemed to know each other, and since I interrupted their lively conversation, they completely took me in. They weren’t satisfied with a formal greeting, apparently, they were there to make friends.
“Hello! How are you? You must be terrified in here!” – exclaimed a beautiful woman of short, wild blonde hair.
“Oh not at all! I love music. I think guitars are beautiful. My dad used to play when he was younger.” – I replied, kind of whimsically at the end.
Everybody nodded in agreement, they all had their kind smiles directed at me until the young boy seated in front of me frowning.
“He used to play? He doesn’t play anymore?” – he asked.
And before I got a chance to answer the girl beside me spoke again.
“Wait, please tell me he taught you how to play before he quited.”
Again, before I really got any words out, everybody seemed to read my negative expression.
“You don’t know how to play?” – an old lady that was lovingly embracing her guitar asked me. All I did was shaking my head negatively.
I could feel some of them pitied me, some of them were horrified and they were all paying attention.
“Fresh meat!” – a man with a beard exclaimed loudly, starting equally as loud cheers across the entire train. Upon seeing my alarmed reaction, he explained himself. – “Sorry, It’s an expression. Do you want to learn how to play?”
“I’d love to!” – I replied with a smile.
I genuinely wanted to learn how to play. And learning how to play guitar on a train full of strangers who all happened to be talented guitarists happened to sound perfect. However, I never expected they would take it quite so seriously. Cheers came again, this time way louder. In a matter of seconds, a guitar had found its place on my lap, and so many people were surrounding me I had never been so grateful for not being claustrophobic.
“Okay, listen, first you have to understand your guitar. Let me explain to you all about it.” – a young man with glasses started explaining, naming all the parts of the guitar and its basic function.
“We don’t have all day.” – a teenage girl with pink-colored hair complained.
“That’s correct! Come on, a few chords.” – said an extraordinarily tall man that would have been intimidating if he hadn’t been so kind.
We worked on barely three chords until somebody interrupted again. This time it was another old lady.
“No, no, she needs to familiarize with the instrument fully. Feel herself join the guitar. She wants to learn… music. Teach her a song.” – she said, with a soft but dramatic voice.
“Yes! Let me, let me!” – a young boy shouted and with the help of a fellow young boy helped me learn the hook of a classic rock song.
My fingers were starting to ache, and I was having a hard time retaining the giggles that wanted to escape my mouth. The situation was just so funny and strange to me. It was one hundred per cent the most random thing that had ever happened to me. But they continued to interrupt each other.
“Okay that’s very nice, but she wants to learn how to play guitar, not just one song. Here, let me teach you the notes, they’ll be your lifesaver.” – another beautiful woman, this one of long brown hair got close to me to explain the details.
However, obviously, she was interrupted as well as soon as I got the basics of it.
“That’s wonderful, wonderful. But, here’s something better. This is how I learned!” – a very kind-looking man said – “Look, just imitate me, imagine I’m a mirror, I’ll guide you.”
He sat down in front of me and started strumming, using the simple chords I knew and experimenting a little, letting me getting used every new thing and explaining it all, with voices around supporting all he said. Soon enough I was comfortably playing along with him. And before I knew it, everybody started picking up their guitars.
I didn’t know the song before that day. But clearly, all guitar players in the world knew it. Because in the blink of an eye everybody in that train was playing the same song on a hundred different guitars, different styles, different methods but it was all just so beautiful.