Can heal. When you’re stuck at home because the world outside is turning white and the frigid air cuts though your bones, the kitchen is the place to be. At least it works for me. The chopping of celery and carrots, of fragrant fresh parsley or cilantro, the cheerful sautéing sizzle of minced onions dancing in a generous coating of extra-virgin olive oil create a musical background, calming and serene, purposeful, as they will become the meal that brings a pleasant closure to days filled with stress and anxiety (as it’s usually the case for each of us who happens to be part of the process of ‘living’). But the music of the pans isn’t enough. Yes, let the aroma emanating from the stove engulf the room, but let there be MUSIC, loud and grand, to mingle with it, creating a symphony for all the senses. I want to talk about music and the fact that I can hardly focus on anything without its majestic lift. I’m writing now, keeping an eye on the bubbling of the Lentil Soup in the kitchen (yes, I dash back and forth, since my computer is located in a different area of the house), but smooth, liquid notes, tender yet forceful, guide my fingers on the keyboard, create the right mood, stimulate thoughts, demand the emotional downpour that allows me to be undaunted by the blank screen. Music is easy these days, I download tunes regularly, enriching my playlist with all that touches my heart and, especially, my writing senses, but it was more of a struggle back then. Memoir time. Like all teenagers, music was the soundtrack of my life and I would obsess about new releases by my favorite artists, when I was growing up in Italy. However, my parents were quite thrifty when it came to needs and wants, and needing new winter coats for three kids was way above wanting that new record by Lucio Battisti. Sigh. Buying newly-released LP’s was out of the question, way too unnecessarily expensive, and then, accidenti, do you call that music? So, as I heard the powerful thundering of Beethoven and Bach’s imposing music filter from my father’s studio, I wished that the high-tech (for those times) stereo system he had installed to inspire his creative juices would produce the pop tunes I so longed for. But no. A rickety record player had been placed in my and my sister’s room, a free gadget (not kidding) my father was presented with when he purchased an expensive suit from a local men’s wear shop. We played our ‘45’s on it and the sound seemed all right, since we had learned not to be fussy. Still, no way I could go and pick up the latest single in the trendiest record shop in Portici, Marina, on Via Libertà, because it was considered wasted money (Mica e’ un grande come Chopin…), so, at times, I found myself gathering my meager cash and purchase a false from a street vendor. Indeed, in those days before the ‘free’ downloads that you can now easily find on countless websites in Italy, many unknown but fairly talented singers would illegally record popular hits which would be sold for half the price on the streets. Got a few, I’ll admit. At least I’d learn the lyrics, the memorization of which was a must to be considered cool. Then, there was this other gadget that I really coveted, so that I could have my very own, personal record player. Enter the mangiadischi. As the name implies, it was literally a ‘record eater’, a box built of sturdy plastic, available in many vibrant hues, outfitted with a slit where you would insert the record (a ‘45’ only of course), and it would play the song nicely, albeit a tad tinny or scratchy. But it would do, people, and damn it, I wanted one! But no dice. Now, in my New York days, I got my Battisti on my iPhone, together with Ingrid Michaelson, Bocelli, Jason Mraz, Biagio Antonacci and everyone else who makes beautiful music, in whatever language they may live, whatever genre they belong to, and I continue to dream along to the rhythm of their voices and their guitars. Allora, those ‘wonder years’ have vanished, but the music lives, pulsating through my body, inspiring me to loosen the knots that twist together my soul and my fears, and simply feel. Thus, I write.