Florida College System Activities Association, the person who manages our building told me that if the black man who played his harmonica near the front of our building during the lunch hour bothered me, let him know. My office is right at the front of the building, with a nice big window, so I hear a lot of street noise. That was seven months ago, and I'm still enjoying the harmonica music outside my window at lunch time thanks to that sweet older black man, so last week, I took the time to sit down and talk with him.
Meet Omar (his stage name). Street musicians have never bothered me. On the contrary, I've always rather enjoyed them. They've always been one of my favorite things about visiting New York City. I think it takes a lot of courage to sit there along the street and share your music. Heck, I'm incredibly shy about playing in front of someone in my own house! Omar has been a musician for more than 40 years but has only been playing harmonica for about 10 years. He's currently trying to learn some of the oldies, "you know, like Barbra Streisand!" so he can expand his repertoire. He shared with me that back in the 80's, he used to play his saxophone over on Tennessee Street. I may have seen him there while I was in college! He's also from Jacksonville, and graduated from Raines High School. When I told him I went to Orange Park, he said he remembered going over to Orange Park for sports events. Based on his email address, I'm guessing he's only a couple years older than my husband, so having also grown up on the Northside in the Raines school district, Benny wants to chat with him the next time he's in Tallahassee with me to see who they both know!
Omar shared with me that he shares his music because, to him, sharing music is akin to sharing love, and his goal is to simply spread as much love as he can. He believes the world definitely needs more love right now, all the love it can get. I certainly agree with him on that. While I've always smiled at Omar when I've walked by, I've never sat and talked with him before last week. Now I'm so glad I did!
See more of my Friends and Strangers Project posts here.