Another Short Story From Food Series 2017…
Lunch in the Park
The other day I took a walk at Noon to find a quiet spot to eat my lunch. I ended up at Washington Square Park, across the street from the Newberry Library at Clark and Walton streets.
It’s a picturesque setting boasting a large fountain surrounded by colorful flowers being inspected by white butterflies.
There was a toddler girl learning to walk, hanging onto her mother’s hem. Dogs gladly ran after balls thrown by their owners, quickly bringing them back for another toss.
Even the pigeons seemed friendlier than those found in the Loop, as they cooed and waited for crumbs.
Surprisingly there was a piano, plopped down in the middle of the grass, waiting to be played by anyone who came along. One fella spent a few minutes playing a short melody, putting the icing on the cake in this unexpected landscape.
It was a perfect setting on a striking day – providing great material for a blog post.
The next day I set out again with my phone in hand. I wanted to get some pics to go with my story.
I chose a lousy day to return. The street crews were laying black tar and I gingerly stepped through it, cursing myself that my shoes were getting ruined.
And That’s How I Get My Stories
Another gentleman was at the piano today. When I asked to take his picture, he said he would be honored. He played a little bit of everything, from Jingle Bells to Mozart to Camptown Races.
He smiled and told me his name is Jeffrey and works as a personal trainer and chef. He had noticed the piano earlier and brought along sheet music to practice. He was glad to hear that his music had an effect on others.
In Fact, It Had a Tremendous Impact.
His face became impassioned as he relayed a touching story. A friend of his had just spotted Jeffrey playing music and he ran over to say hello. He shared a secret with Jeffrey that he was considering taking his own life. He had struggled with an illness and was finding it too difficult to cope with latent challenges.
The individual said running into his old friend and hearing him play a piano in the park was the breakthrough he needed to reconsider his fate. Incredibly, their reconnection was a turning point in this man’s life.
Immediately, Jeffrey realized his small gesture of playing melodies had tangible influence on others. “Life is nothing more than interactions” Jeffrey said, as involuntary tears fell from his face. It’s connections like those that can (literally) keep us going.
See what an afternoon in the park can do? It’s good for the soul.
I thanked Jeffrey for sharing his moving story as well as his music. To the rest of us – and especially his friend – he was an inspiring part of our day.
Back to Reality
I sat down on a park bench to eat my salad and heard Jeffrey calling out my name. He pointed out that I had dropped my lunch napkin. When I stretched to retrieve it, I dropped my fork as well and proceeded to step on it with my tar-laden shoe.
I picked up the fork – it looked fine to me.
Thank you for reading.