Thursday, July 5, 2018

This time.

*image shared with permission

I’ve passed you too many times to count in the last decade and a half. Our eyes always meet and the same thing happens. I wave my hand and say hello. And you offer a gentlemanly nod accompanied by a gesture for me to look at your collection of items for sale. I smile in response and, without fail, you say, “Maybe next time.”

Every. Single. Time.

This morning I woke up thinking of you. Recounting the hundreds of lunches that I’ve had that called for me to pass you and for us to have that same Groundhog Day-like exchange. I decided that today would be the day that I stopped and really, truly looked at what you were selling.


I walked up slowly, to let you know I wasn’t in a hurry. And when you held out that flattened palm toward that rectangular cloth holding all of your goods, this time I halted, kneeled down, and gave it all a good, hard look. I asked you prices and questions. You were patient and answered each and every one.

“I like the copper bracelet but don’t have enough cash on me for it,” I said. “Maybe I could make a donation instead?”

You asked if I needed socks. Or perhaps some African oil? What about some shea butter? You didn’t want a handout. It was clear.

“What about you play me some music? And I pay for that?” I asked. You seemed to like this suggestion best of all.

And so you played. A sweet little ditty that I’d never heard before. But sweet all the same.

After that, I decided that I didn’t want us to be strangers anymore. I learned your name. You learned mine. I discovered that, like me, you love people more than you fear them and believe that we are all more alike than we are different. I found out that—no, you aren’t a Rastafarian from the West Indies. You are a bona fide ATLien—a Grady baby born and raised right in the heart of the 4th Ward. You’re a musician, an entrepreneur, a jewelry maker, a singer and, especially, a man who loves the pulse of a thriving city. You used to live in New York City for many years but found your way back home to Atlanta. You thought Dinkins could’ve done more as “the first brother mayor of NYC” and that Rudy Giuliani was decent but that he had no business running for President of these whole United States. Oh, and you like that Mayor Keisha Lance Bottoms is one of Atlanta’s own just like you.


I bid you adieu and went to have some lunch after that. On the walk back, you gave me that same gallant nod and gestured to your spread. “Maybe next time, Dr. Kimberly,” you said this time.

“Yes, Mr. Harun,” I replied. “Maybe next time indeed.”

I love this place.

#amazinggrady #ilovepeople #objectsarecloserthantheyappear #loveisthewhat #iseeyou

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