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I walked down the grey side walk. Past the grey buildings, under the grey sky. It was a dreary day. People rushed by, ducking under their umbrellas, pulling up the collars of their coats.
I took my time, not avoiding puddles, not ducking under awnings. I allowed the water to soak up the legs of my unhemmed jeans, to form puddles in the soles of my ruined suede flats, and drench my short so it clung tightly to my torso.
I paused to look in the window of a brightly light store. It was a beautiful display of elegant evening wear: slim-fitting dresses, cascading skirts, and elaborate accessories. An arrogant looking woman glared at me from inside the shop, crinkling up her face as she took in my appearance. I could easily predict her thoughts: disgust at my ruined mess of an attire, scorning me for turning away potential customers by standing in front of her shop, turning away money. After all, she's think, money is happiness.
Other pedestrians threw me condescending looks before I realized I was standing in a puddle. I was already so cold and wet, it didn't matter anymore.
I walked on, over a bridge of gushing water, under dripping trees. I finally wound up at the train station. I always end up at the train station. But I couldn't leave. I turned around and went back to the apartment.
The old spiraling stairs shook as I climbed up, holding onto the barrier so as to not slip down on my wet feet.
My mom wasn't back from work yet, so there was no one to be alarmed at my rugged appearance. Nonetheless, I changed out of my wet clothes, made a cup of tea and sat by the window watching the busy people rush in and out of the rain.
I must have fallen asleep because I awoke hours later with orange streetlight glowing on my face, cold tea spilled on the floor, and the sound of my mother unlocking the door.
"Yes but we have to have them printed by Monday!" she yelled into her cellphone. She struggled to close the door while juggling grocery bags, "then she'll have to take some people off the list! Jean said no more than two hundred!"
She was helping her friend organize an anniversary party.
"Hi Mom!" I yelled across the room. She waved and continued to talk to whoever was on the phone.
I went into my room and sat down on my bed. I stared at the map of the world on my wall, at dozens of pinpointed places where I wanted to go.
Then I heard music. It was light and distant and it wasn't coming from the TV or the stereo in the living room. I walked over to my window and pushed it open, the cool night air greeted me and I heard the music louder.
I looked down. The was a man with a guitar walking down the street, playing a simple chord progression. Simple but beautiful. Apart from him, the street was empty. He played for no one, but for everyone at the same time. I watched him walk in and out of the pools of orange streetlight, and disappear into the shadows again.
I had an unusual feeling. I wanted to follow him. I was curiously drawn to him, and to his motives. After observing the selfishness and arrogance of people all day, this man appealed to me. I had watched them ignore all other aspects of the day, ignore anything that didn't involve themselves or potential income. They were blind to the feelings of others: the despair of broken, the joy of the wholesome. They did not care. They focused on immediate solutions to immediate problems, immediate pleasures and immediate satisfactions. They cared about their image and their income.
But this man was different. He played for the sake of playing- not caring if people saw him or judged him, not for money or to please others- he played for himself. His tune reflected everything I had seen that day. A monotonous base, never ending, throughout the various melodies of emotions I had witnessed.
I ran out of my room and down the stairs. By the time I got to the street, he was gone. I walked up to the next block and looked around the corner, empty. I sighed, and turned around to go home, I couldn't search the city for him, and I wasn't wearing shoes.
It took me a while to get to sleep that night. I kept thinking and my mind refused to succumb to the calm of sleep.
The next day I woke up, dressed in simple clothes, took my guitar and went out, leaving my case in my room.
I wondered around twisted crossroads for a while before lifting the strap above my head and strumming a C major. Some people near by shot me stern, confused looks, briefly breaking out of their self-centered daze. I kept going, strumming up and down and changing between C, F and G. I kept walking, looking straight ahead of me, smiling, and avoiding eye contact.
There was color in the world today. The grey clouds had passed and the sky was a clear blue. Flowers brightened the scene in pots and hanging baskets, shops put their sale racks out on the street, and people shed their black rain coats for colorful shirts, skirts, pants, and dresses. It was a happy day.
I kept walking, keeping a simple rhythm with happy chords, spreading music, and complementing the joy of the day. I wondered around town and played various chord progressions until my fingers began to hurt, then I bought a smoothie and sat down in the park. It was a good day, these were simple joys.
About a week later, I saw someone playing the violin while crossing the street. A few days, I saw later someone with a saxophone wondering around the park. I began to see more and more musicians put on spontaneous little concerts around the city. I would go out and play at least once a day. A few times, someone else with a guitar would match up with my chords or play a melody to whatever key I was in, or bass player would walk with me and set the rhythm, or people would just hum an little tune as they walked by.
The streets were filled with music, and the busy people seemed to break from their lives and listen. Musicians would accompany the moods of the day, based on their observations of the people of the city. Sometimes, tragic and sad melodies would ring throughout the streets. Other times, joyful waltzes, and exciting rhythms would bound throughout the city. Even if the mood was sad, people seemed a bit happier, knowing that they weren't alone in their troubles, that others had felt the same way before. People understood each other. More and more of them would interact, snapping out of their own lives to ask about someone else's.
And that sense of unity convinced me to stay.