A few months ago, I headed to best buy for a new hard drive. I was stressed about pretty much everything and after looking through about 50 different hard drives that looked exactly the same, I picked one, bought it and walked out the store, head down, into the street. I paused for a second to figure out where I’d left my car, and as I stood there on the bustling street, clutching my bags, looking frazzled and probably a little insane, I met Tyrone. He was selling Street Sense but he didn’t ask me to buy anything, he just asked me how I was. I could tell he was struggling and I asked if he was hungry.
For the next two hours we ate sandwiches and talked about things strangers don’t usually talk about – our lives, our health, family, the things that worried us. He didn’t have a lot of money and was facing a serious illness, but he was happy to be alive. As we sat there together, steps from the busy entrance of the Tenleytown Metro, I felt myself beginning to let go of the things that bothered me. He offered me perspective and friendship during a time when I really needed it. And I wanted to thank him.
Toward the end of our conversation, he shared his love for music. He told me that he had been robbed when he was living in a motel several years ago, and that his guitar – along with everything else he owned – had been taken. He admitted that although he missed playing, he couldn’t afford another guitar. As I drove home, I called every musician I knew. Less than one month later, I was able to give Tyrone a beautiful, gently used guitar in a hard leather case:
Never in my life had I seen someone so appreciative. He couldn’t stop laughing and smiling and he showed the instrument to everyone who passed, “Can you believe it? MY OWN GUITAR!” Then he started singing James Taylor and calling me Santa to anyone who would listen. It was one of the best moments of my life.
These photos are part of a larger project (to be released sometime 2012.) Thank you so much to Jason and his friend, Jenny, for donating the guitar and to Middle C Music for replacing its missing string for free!