Patrick and I made a new friend today.
We were on church set-up today, which is basically assembling the place to look like our version of a church (during the week it is a mission) and then cleaning up afterward. Also, it involves the important task of going to the hipster hostel café down the street to pick up coffee and then return the containers afterwards.
On our way back with the coffee, we got stopped by a random man standing in the doorway of a closed shop.
Oh, I should probably mention at this point that we go to church in what is known as a super dicey part of town.
I like it. It makes me feel at home (because at home-home, we go to church in a super dicey part of town). You just never know who or what is going to wander in through the doors. As much as I am terribly shy, I love some of the personalities and honesty that can come in the door in. I also think that loving people where they are at is so important, just like anywhere else, but in this place, some of the people unfortunately don’t get as much love.
So, this guy who is kind of looking a bit in disarray stops us. He has no teeth. His beard forms a single dreadlock. He has terrible leg swelling to the point where one shoe has no laces and his foot barely fits in it. He has a lovely smile.
He tells us that he isn’t asking us for money or food or something because he doesn’t do that sort of thing. He wants to read us a letter he is writing to his girlfriend. His girlfriend of 25 years. Who he dated when he was a teenager.
He hauls out a piece of paper. On one side is a ton of numbers. On the other is writing.
It is simply written in block letters. Some of the tenses of verbs are wrong, some words are misspelled. He reads us every word. It is a slow go. As much as the actual writing isn’t the best, it is pretty deep poetry. The thought behind it is lovely.
He tells us he is going to make it into a song and chats with us about his blind and lame grandfather who was an amazing piano player and who he gets his musical ability from. He talks a bit about love.
Then, he starts walking with us and eventually turns off down an alley.
We laughed because that is the beauty of this community. We were stopped to be read poetry. That’s all. Most people would have ran or kept walking for fear of what was going to happen. But really, we got slightly more snowy and much more happy.
After church, we were returning the canisters the coffee was in and we passed the same guy playing a purple children’s guitar on the corner. He sounded really good. He picks with his nails, not with a pick (this always impresses the face off of me).
He spotted us and ran across the street to say hi.
Again, he told us he plays and sings for the love of it, not to make money. He often plays at home on his own, but it was nice today.
He talked to us about his theories about music. How instead of there being a bunch of (I think he said sixteen) notes in a scale, he feels there are really only four. He then played us four chords. The four chords that make up most songs.
He told us that the best way to learn to play guitar is on a children’s guitar like the one he has in an empty room, so you can correct yourself off of your own echos. That you need to feel the music. That you need to find your notes.
He sang a song to us and mixed up styles to show us how music is like a wave and you can change the flow.
While we chatted, people walked by. Everyone seemed to know this guy. He clearly isn’t just friendly with us.
Eventually he let us go and started talking to a lady waiting for the bus (who did not look as amused as we were).
I love that people aren’t always what they seem. That someone who clearly loves music and poetry wants to share that with the world, in his own unique way. That a neighbourhood that is “tough” is very loving and friendly to this unique soul.
Again, you just can’t make this stuff up.