the piano, it sounds like a carnival
And the microphone smells like a beer
— the prophet william joel
i’m running half-mile loops around the arts center while mo communes with her clay. it’s one of those days — warm, sunny, happy.
i take a break after a few miles and sit down at the piano on the course. i begin to play, before realizing i don’t how. i resume running, oblivious to the fact i don’t know how to do that either.
ernie pook is in good spirits. it’s one of those days you wish would never end. i’m thinking it couldn’t get better.
and then it does.
coming around the corner after 6 miles or so, i see his head peeking over the piano. a scruffy guy has parked his well-worn bike and is playing.
i hit pause on a weird bowie song on pandora to listen to him. i expect a simple song. i get a symphony.
he’s wearing a sweatshirt that’s too big on a day that’s too hot. his head is down, immersed in the music.
he isn’t toting his stuff, so i’m guessing he’s not homeless, just on break from the halfway house across the street. and he’s clearly madly in love with the piano.
i stand awkwardly, listening. it’s a classical piece i don’t know, but it’s beautiful. i give him the guy nod. his unshaven face nods back.
i listen for a while from behind him and resume running, thinking back to the reno to san francisco race and the night the russian guy i had been running with for a week sat down at a steinway in a restaurant lobby and revealed himself to be a virtuoso pianist. people are complicated. why must we stereotype? un hombre del mundo, he called himself.
when i come around on my next lap, the guy in the sweatshirt is riding away on his bike, safely back in his clark kent persona.
i finish up my run, hoping he finds his way back to his life.
when he gets there, i hope there’s a piano waiting for him.