I was standing on Mass Ave between the CVS and Boston Market. I was waiting while Dotty went to get some vitamin supplements which are an integral part of her RA treatment regime.
This day had been an absolute efficiency nightmare and two or three essential tasks had managed to consume the morning, noontime too, and mid afternoon was nigh. While DG was in the Vitamin shop selecting the essentials, I tried to salvage a few minutes of pretend productivity by stepping out of the Jeep and “nonchalantly street shooting” while leaning on the fender of my Jeep. I can’t lay claim to transparency because while I’d taken the large petal lens hood off the 10-22 wide angle lens strapped to the Canon 40D, most folks these days are so camera phobic to anything larger than a fashionably diminutive point and shoot, perhaps fearing some terrible act of photographic terrorism, that I did draw the occasional furtive glance.
Even so, I was startled and totally disabused of my notion of total anonimity and invisibility when a handsome black man with a couple of bags from Economy Hardware walked by, turned and said, “You’re Arni Cheatham aren’t you?” With a warm smile he continued “I’m 46, and I saw you in a concert at Berklee when I was 16 and for some reason, I never forgot you.” Boom! What a profound surprise! I was momentarily speechless!
He told me his name but in the brief encounter I forgot almost immediately because I’m a notorious name dyslexic. Both of us lacking a business card at the moment, I did tell him how to email me because he said he had a good memory. I didn’t point a camera at him and ask could I take a photo because I was too humbled and too afraid to break the magic of the moment.
He told me he was also rushing back to work and I had the feeling that time was limited for lingering conversation and consequence would be to his disfavor should we tarry too long. I did give him a spontaneous big hug and smile, implore him to email me so that I could get him to a concert soon and I told him as he was hurrying away that he “Made My Day!”
And so… Despite a profound lack of personal narcissism, should I humbly take this is as spiritual message that I need to continue to play the Saxophone? Somehow I think the answer is “Yes” although I do not dare contemplate the secondary question “Why” other than to answer it with “Because”…
P.S. Yes, I’ve been inordinately quiet in the last month and a half. The move has been tough, is not totally finished but is settling down. The jazz concert season is becoming active. I’m preparing for some teaching with middle school students and intergenerational concerts thanks to JazzBoston, Aardvark gigs are excalating and preparing for a one man photography show in November at the Gallery at the Piano Factory. I’ll try to keep you all posted in a more timely fashion as the next month or two unfolds. Even more surprises are in the works. Many thanks for your patience. If you want to stop by and chat a bit in person, stop by Dotty and my new studio which is open during South End Open Studios this weekend from 11am to 6pm. Here’s the deets…
Arni Cheatham & Dotty Guild