A morning song

This morning I was riding my bike north on 34th after having dropped the big kid for Kindergarten. Just south of Belmont I saw three friends and pulled over. R, a young man who’s had a long life already was waking up on the stairwell. He’d folded his body in half, presumably to sleep and was seperating the reusable cardboard from the soaked through cardboard. Standing next to the stoop with his back to the street was M, a middle aged man of small stature and big spirit. M had a guitar hanging from his shoulder and having conversation with R. As I pulled my bike up, I see Leroy. My man! Back from his apartment living to check on his friends at his old stoop. He quickly called me out,

“Hey Bubba! You still coming to breakfast at my house tomorrow, right?! You ain’t gonna cancel when I already got the food marinating.” We laughed and hugged and I assured him I couldn’t wait for breakfast tomorrow…at his house. Amazing to think that for decades this man has been sleeping on concrete outside. Tomorrow he is making me breakfast in the kitchen he’s had since July.

M, hearing the commotion, turns around, blinks, and smiles, “Hey it’s you! It’s you! The guy. The guy with all the good words to say. The guy from Sunnyside.” We hugged and I reminded him my name and he proudly showed me his guitar. “I finally got a guitar. You know I play but I never had one for so long.”

He told me about his mother who just passed and how lonely he’d been. “Without her and without music, I just don’t know what to do. But now I got music again.” I asked where he got it and to my surprise, my partner Sandy had found it and gotten it to him…”She knows that I was lonely without my music. She’s an angel full of grace, You know? Now this guitar is connected to me. It’s like it’s a part of me now.” I told him he should name it since it is so full of love. He paused, looked at the cement and in one voice M and Leroy looked up saying, “Sandy!” That’s it, M’s guitar is named Sandy! He started playing some Bob Dylan to me while passers by headed to work and bus stops and coffee shops. I felt lucky in that moment.

As he finished, he was crying again, the emotion of playing for an audience just a little too much good to hold in. Leroy was grinning from ear to ear with the sounds of music bouncing off the bricks and R was ready to rise.

We four shared a moment there full of laughter, tears, music, brotherhood, and hugs. It lasted 10 minutes. My day has been so much better because I stopped this morning. I’m so glad I stopped. I rode across Belmont as M wailed behind me, “Tell me, how does it feel” with full Dylanesque inflection. It feels good to have friends.


just a note from a volunteer


Birthday Party. By Sandy Lofy