One of the ways that my husband, Ken, has dealt with the restrictions of life due to COVID, has been playing music outside in Central Park. Once a month over the summer, Ken would organize to gather in Central Park with 1 or 2 musician friends (one being my best friend from childhood, David) and jam out together. He would text a couple of friends that he was going and if they wanted to swing by and bring their own wine and food, or just to drop by. As I was out in Oregon during these “performances,” I never had the privilege of attending the concerts, but it was clear how much happiness, joy, and life it gave Ken. He lived for these evenings as it renewed a sense of hope in him — cheesy as it sounds, it gave him life. The small interactions with strangers, outside (and safe) encounters with friends, and the music itself, made a huge difference to him. So last week, he put together a last minute park gathering and I finally was able to attend.
SO many random strangers stopped by to listen — to hear the music with their young children, to request songs, to borrow the guitar and play their own tune (yes, this really happened. Ken panicked about COVID afterwards), and to take photographs of the magic. An aspiring photographer asked Ken if it was okay to take pictures of him, and then promptly sent them to him. These are the photos of Ken taken by Playing Reverie. It was truly an I LOVE NYC moment — where friends, strangers, loved ones — all came together to celebrate LIFE.
Truth be told, I always get a little nervous and anxious watching Ken perform his guitar. He is not a professional musician, but plays for the fun and challenge of it. It was such a great evening watching him play as it was clear, it just makes him so happy. It is kinda like my rollerskating. It brings joy to his life.
I brought Cruzzie with me — Tusia had art class — and didn’t bring any food. But it didn’t matter. I came for the experience and memories. Central Park — and all the random performers and watchers — is my favorite place in the world.
It was such a carefree, unexpected, and fun evening and I am in awe of Ken for being brave to perform in public, and doing something new and different. The small unexpected interactions with strangers (like these beautiful photographs taken by a true stranger) and the random conversations are the most memorable, and such a great way to connect to this beloved city we all love so much. I hope that Ken gets enough courage to play again before Winter and broadcasts to more friends (he doesn’t tell a lot of people and is always last minute in the planning). My take away: find something new to bring you joy and happiness and push yourself to step out of your comfort zone.